By Elaine Christie, Author

There’s no such thing as a “typical day” in case management. It can be tough to stay on track when dealing with so many varied responsibilities, such as keeping track of documentation, coordinating and facilitating patient care, tracking Medicare Conditions of Participation, communicating with payers, spending time on the computer, and meeting with co-workers and care providers.

What can case management departments do when they spot common barriers to efficiency? Here are three tips to help remove those barriers and make the entire team more effective:

1. Obtain leadership support.

At a foundational level, case management staff need to see that their leaders understand what they are facing and that they are actively working to decrease any stumbling blocks in the day.

“If I were a case management leader, I would solicit input from my staff about what they see as things that waste their time. I would first try to eliminate some of those time-wasters, if I could,” says Beverly Cunningham, MS, RN, ACM, a partner and consultant with Case Management Concepts.

The leaders also should make bedside rounds to understand in real time what types of barriers the staff face, Cunningham says.

2. Set staffing priorities.

The ideal contemporary model works to prevent a silo mentality across the case management team, with an eye toward appropriate staffing, says Cunningham.

That’s another reason that case managers may choose to set boundaries when it comes to their caseloads and things not getting done consistently. These issues should be communicated to supervisors so a facility’s employer can recognize the department is either understaffed or undertrained.

Cunningham notes that the best examples of balanced staffing stem from case management departments that have added clerical staff.

“The clerical staff member allows the professional staff — RN case managers and social work case managers — to work at the top of their license, rather than spending time with phone calls, faxing, etc., that can be done by a clerical staff member,” she says.

3. Have an educator mentor on staff.

Some case management departments use an educator who may play a role in educating and mentoring from a time-management standpoint.

“It can start with an effective orientation process where the educator provides appropriate education based on the staff member’s past experience in case management, as well as working closely with those providing orientation on the units,” she says.

The educator also can coordinate annual competencies to identify areas where time management can be improved, notes Cunningham.