Case Management

Tips and tricks to help get along with physicians

Case Management Insider, July 7, 2015

Your relationship with the physicians you work with might be challenging from time to time. Case managers and physicians aren’t always on the same page.

“Even though both groups want what is best for the patients, there seems to be challenges with communication,” says Randi Ferrare, RN, BSN, interim director of case management and social work at Providence Alaska Medical Center. “Case managers get frustrated because most physicians will tell you that they do not have time to read the case management notes.”

While many case managers know that it’s best to ask questions face to face, physicians just may not have the time, which can make it difficult to have that all-important conversation.

Because of the challenges case managers face, they can sometimes make missteps with physicians. The biggest mistake: getting emotional. “Keep emotions and frustrations out of interactions with physicians. It is not productive and will compromise the relationship,” says Ferrare.

They might not approach conversations the right way and sometimes they may make assumptions that prove to be incorrect.

“I think case managers sometimes assume that physicians have a discharge plan in mind so case managers wait for the physician to tell them what to set up for discharge,” says Ferrare.

But in reality, discharge planning works better when the case manager takes a more active role, she says.

“The most effective case managers see where the patient's needs can be best met, and formulate their own plan and a back-up plan, and then communicate and work with the physician to implement that plan,” says Ferrare.
In this scenario, the case manager lets the doctor know what will be best for the patient. “Physicians appreciate someone else taking the lead instead of being asked,” she says.

In the end, the best get-along strategy for case managers is to remember you’re all on the same team. “There is one goal, getting the patient to the next level of care. Both [case managers and physicians] need to respect each other and keep in mind that we are working together and not against each other,” says Ferrare.

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