Audience: Healthcare Professionals
Patient advocacy is a term that gets a lot of attention in healthcare. At Angel MedFlight, it’s part of our own promise as we coordinate care and logistics between sending and receiving hospitals. In case management, this extends even further in an effort to deliver quality care based on evidence-based practices (EBP) while educating and aligning the patient with proper expectations.
Evidence-Based Practices and Care Coordination
In all professions, it’s always imperative to support any claims with indisputable evidence. For case managers this is especially true, where decision making on behalf of the patient happens on many different levels and disciplines.
When a patient is admitted to a hospital, they will typically follow a specific path to recovery based on symptoms and clinical standards. The goal of the case manager is to transition the patient through the recovery process so they can eventually rejoin their families and communities – hopefully as active, productive participants.
Unfortunately this path often isn’t linear, and tends to meander as patient’s conditions, physical abilities, and environments differ from person to person. The variables make evidence-based case management more of a challenge, coupled with the fact that the patient is typically transitioned to an outside case manager – or multiple case managers – each with their own versions of evidence-based standards.
As an example – patients who have been treated for a massive heart failure and are transitioning back into society could face a myriad of challenges. It’s highly probable that once discharged, a patient begins working with several different case managers, and each faces different physical challenges due to living arrangements. Case in point. Consider this same patient is released from the hospital and returns home – to a 5 story walk-up with no elevator. The original case manager should have known this to provide the proper care and support needed to transition back home, but a case manager at an insurance company might not have all of the facts and be operating from a completely different set of evidence-based standards.
Finding Middle Ground
To solve these challenges and make the transitions of care as seamless as possible, all parties must have the same patient-centric goals in mind by communicating constantly to ensure a free flow of information needed to keep the patient from returning to the hospital.
Setting Expectations with Patient-focused Care
In many facets of life, the better we can visualize and envision our outcomes, the higher the probability of attaining this vision. We see it all the time with athletes, performers, and high-achieving individuals. The power of the mind to conceive leads to the ability to achieve.
Patients who face a long uphill battle to recovery are no different, and healing starts with the bedside nurse, who has an intimate connection to the patient before they are transitioned to a case manager. By educating bedside nurses to the details of a patients recovery, information should be shared with patients so the can begin visualizing a return to normal life in advance of the healing process. By understanding how their own care will be administered going forward, it also lessens the chance of re-admittance to the hospital.
In determining the best course of action case managers also need to fully understand what’s best for the patient, coupled with an intimate understanding of expectations. This circles back to patient advocacy, where a case manager does all they can to maximize a patient’s higher physical functional status, while aligning this properly with personal perceptions of their functional status.
At what level of life are they looking to return to? The answers differ greatly between individuals and professionals.
Today’s case manager assimilates all factors, from clinical evidence-based practice recovery methods, to understanding a patient’s unique background, home environment, and expectations.