Case Management

Bridge the communication gap with physicians with these tips

Case Management Insider, January 12, 2016

Do you sometimes feel like you and the physicians at your hospital aren’t communicating as well as you could be? Even the best case managers can sometimes feel like a buzzing fly, annoying physicians when trying to gather needed information in the middle of a busy day, James Haering, DO, SFHM, a physician and the vice president of appeals and physician services for Resonant Physician Advisory Services in Tacoma, Washington, told HCPro’s Case Management Monthly.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Adopting the following simple strategies help clear the paths of communication and help ensure quality, efficient patient care:

  • Make sure the physicians know who you are. It seems obvious, but case managers should make a point of ensuring all physicians know who they are and how to reach them. “I can’t have a relationship if I don’t know who you are, where you are, or even how to get ahold of you,” says Haering. “Depending on the size of the hospital, you might literally want to put a photo of yourself on the unit with your name and contact information … This will be a great help if you have a doctor that is new or who only comes by occasionally.”
  • Hit the floor. If you spend most of your day cloistered away looking at electronic medical records, you’re missing a valuable opportunity. If the case manager and the physician are relying too heavily on the electronic record, that likely means they aren’t near the patient and they aren’t near each other, Haering says. Face time with the patient is critical to ensuring the best quality of care and the best possible communication between the case manager and physician.
  • Speak carefully. Physicians and case managers can sometimes speak a different language. “If a case manager comes to a physician and says this patient doesn’t meet inpatient criteria, what the doctor hears is: ‘Your assessment of the patient is wrong,’” Haering says. The physician may not even think this on a conscious level—it may be more of a gut reaction, he says. Instead, phrase your requests carefully so it doesn’t appear that you are challenging the physician’s authority. “If you present yourself as the expert, it might cause them to shut down and not work with you,” says Haering.

By taking the right approach and making sure the physician knows you and can reach you easily, you’ll be much more likely to foster a relationship that is open and that can benefit the patient.


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