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Flextime appeals to care managers in program
Nurses allowed to work at home
When it needed to hire nine nurse care managers for its in-house diabetes management program, Fallon Community Health Plan found a way to overcome the area’s nursing shortage. It gave the nurse care managers in the diabetes program the opportunity to work flexible hours.
“Allowing the nurses to work in flextime made it possible to hire nine nurses in a short time frame. They all felt that flextime was a plus,” says Janice Betz, RN, senior clinical manager for diabetes care at Fallon.
The nurses are allowed to flex up to 50% of their time and work at home as long as they have a computer and access to the Internet.
The nurses typically call seniors during the day and target the working population in the evenings, Betz says.
The care managers are expected to monitor about 200 patients each.
The health plan monitors productivity of the care managers who work at home.
“We look at the number of calls they’ve made and the number of members they’ve made notes on,” Betz says.
Many of the care managers say they are more productive working at home because they have fewer distractions, such as people talking in the next cubicle and co-workers dropping by to socialize, she adds.
The nurses hired for the program went through an intensive weeklong program on diabetes care.
In addition to classroom information, including physiology, epidemiology, diabetes types, and current state-of-the-art management techniques, the nurse were encouraged to “live with diabetes” during the time they were at home.
In order to understand what diabetics go through, the nurses were asked to count their carbohydrates while doing meal planning. They were asked to use insulin pens filled with saline and check their blood sugar using glucose meters.
“We wanted to give them real-life experiences so they would know what their patients encounter. However, they had to do it only for a week, and I asked them to imagine having to do it for 30 years or longer,” Betz says.
Betz, who has worked in the diabetes field for more than 20 years, designed the educational program to give the care managers an intensive look at every aspect of diabetes.
She was assisted by an endocrinologist and a psychologist who still works in the program.
The care managers will continue to go through training. The plan’s new associate medical director for the diabetes disease management program, Joseph Cohen, MD, FCHP, provides regular updates to the care managers on new products and changes in standards of care.