Software improves, saves time for case managers
Software improves, saves time for case managers
Documentation, reports, letters completed in real-time
Not long ago, case managers for Medical Management International lugged huge cases of patient files with them when they visited clients and often worked into the night, entering documentation and patient notes into the computer.
Now, thanks to a productivity software system, the case managers need only a notebook computer and can enter their documentation, access patient files, and send out reports and letters while they are talking with their patients or waiting in an office.
"I know a lot of case managers who go around with a stack of files and a lockbox, and that is what our case managers had to do in the past. Now, we each have a 12-inch tablet PC with an air card," says Suzanne Tambasco, RN, BSN, Med, CCM, CBMS, CRRN, COHNS/CM, LNCC, NCLCP, CEO of the suburban Atlanta-based company and a practicing case manager.
Medical Management International (MMI) contracts with insurance companies to manage workers' compensation claims, legal liability, short-term and long-term disability, and legal nurse consulting.
The case managers all work in the field, working out of their cars and often spending eight to nine hours a day on the road or seeing clients. Then they have to complete their documentation, send out reports and letters, and document their time for billing purposes.
In the past, the case managers often had a backlog of reports and documentation for billing purposes because of the manual operation. They didn't always document their time correctly because they simply couldn't remember everything they did once they started the documentation process.
Billing up to date now
Since the firm started using the software system, the case managers are able to handle 60% more business, and the reports and billings are up to date, Tambasco says.
"Case managers in the field are paid on billable hours and we have to document it well in order to get paid. Health care is a business and you have to focus on getting paid as well as taking care of clients. Instead of jotting down notes and entering time for billing later, this system allows the case managers to document it in real-time," Tambasco points out.
The system has decreased the cost of office supplies such as paper, ink, faxing, and storage and increased productivity, allowing MMI to eliminate two part-time administrative positions.
Tambasco configured her own case management software system using document management software that was easy for her to customize to fit the needs of her company.
Taking control of work flow
The system includes a work flow process that guides the case managers from the time they open the first report on a patient through the entire management process until the case is complete.
When a case is open, the system generates a task list and sends regular reminders to the case managers of tasks waiting to be completed.
Tambasco and her case managers have created a cache of custom standardized letters that are automatically generated to update therapists, employers, attorneys, or insurance companies, including the data necessary for each recipient.
"A therapist needs to know the diagnostic information from the visit but the adjuster doesn't need that information. The attorney wants information on the objective issues. Everybody wants to know work status. The software generates the letters for each and adds the pertinent information," she says.
When MMI case managers are assigned a new case, they immediately contact the individual, physician, the employer, the therapist, and the attorney if one is involved.
"This could be the patient's first day in the hospital or a two-year old case," Tambasco says.
The case manager enters the name of the patient, a description of the injury, the name of the treating physician, and other pertinent information into the computer system. If the firm has worked with a physician, a therapist, or an attorney in the past; the case manager has to enter only the name and the rest of the data are automatically loaded into the patient file.
"Once the information is entered, it goes into the database, and it never has to be entered again," she says.
If the company receives the patient's electronic medical record, it is automatically entered into the system.
When the case manager goes to the appointment module and enters an appointment with the physician, the software generates a confirmation letter to the patient.
When the patient completes an appointment, the case manager adds the outcomes information and notes and sends a report to the interested parties.
"Case managers don't treat patients. We communicate what is going on with the patient and if we don't do that quickly, there's no purpose for it. This allows us to get reports and letters out in a timely manner. We just fill out the screen with data and send it out. Instead of writing several individual letters, we can enter the data just one time and send it to whomever we choose," she says.
The system contains a prompting mechanism that alerts the case managers when they need to check on something.
For instance, if the case manager orders a wheelchair for the patient for an estimated 30 days, the case manager will prompt the patient to check to see if the wheelchair is still needed when the 30-day rental period is about to end.
"A lot of rentals are for 30 days and if you go over that you're stuck for another 30-days' rent. The system helps us remember so we don't waste the client's money," she says.
"The software sets a diary and an action plan for us. It automatically shows us all the documentation fields we need for our meetings, whether it's with a doctor or a therapist," she says.
The system allows the case managers to have the patient's entire medical record with them when they accompany the patient to appointments.
Tambasco tells of accompanying a patient to visit a physician who had not yet gotten the results of the patient's CT scan.
"I was able to go into my computer, download the report, and fax it to him on his office fax machine while I was still in his office with the patient," she says.
"This system allows us to input all our patient records, do a data search and get what we need. It's all on a secure server that meets HIPAA medical record-keeping standards. We can multi-task and take care of sending letters and reports while we are waiting for the next appointment," she says.
The system allows case managers to share cases if they are busy or looking for a different perspective on a case. Each case manager's "diary," or to-do list, is on a "notice board and the schedules are available to all case managers.
"If I have appointments on opposite ends of town, I can have my colleague cover mine and me hers. If someone gets a call or has some free time, they can access my work and help me out or answer a question and bill for that.
"At the end of the day, [the system] gives us more time at home because we don't have to document or write reports in the evening and it makes our families happier, too," she says.Not long ago, case managers for Medical Management International lugged huge cases of patient files with them when they visited clients and often worked into the night, entering documentation and patient notes into the computer.
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