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Geriatric Care Management is Catching On

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We may not be hearing QUITE as much about health care reform of late, now that the political debate has quieted.  But as “reform” is being implemented one of its principal cornerstones is the same as that of geriatric care management – “care coordination”.  I thought this might be an opportunity then to address a question I still hear a lot:  What does a geriatric care manager do? 

I often describe what we do as geriatric care managers to be working as “option-makers” to facilitate the “decision-makers.”  The decision-makers are the elder or other person with special needs along with the families and caregivers.  That has a lot in common with what health care professionals and policy makers under the “new” health care are referring to as the medical home or accountable care models.

Last March the second Annual Care Coordination Summit was held in Las Vegas under the sponsorship of consulting firm, Dorland Health.  Some of what they discussed is a page right out of the geriatric care manager’s playbook.  I said that we as care managers are really “option-makers,” and that is critical in a world where there are so many advances and so much specialization that a patient or even the patient’s primary care physician will be stretched to keep track of everything.  And physicians are not paid to coordinate the care of their patients or follow-up with them after all their doctor visits, hospitalizations or other encounters with health care professionals.  That is where care managers come in, and that is where leaders at the recent summit talked about how care coordination/management will improve the health care individuals receive.

The professionals who attended the recent summit talked a lot about changing health care from being “provider-centered” to being “patient-centered.”  Any of you who are caregivers certainly can appreciate that the elder or other person with special needs is your focus as you support them.  Mainstream health care is beginning to catch on.  In the process of focusing on the patient, the professionals at the summit saw reductions in costs associated with health care and improved health.  For instance, once hospitals begin to think about get appropriate care to patients, they no longer just think about what to do for a patient while they are within their four walls. 

So, it seems that as health care providers are more and more thinking about making options available to patients, they are improving the quality of care patients will receive.  Most hospitals have “discharge planners” who work with patients and family to prepare to leave a hospital.  Accountable care organizations just as with geriatric care managers, however, will be focused on the patient wherever they are, not just the place they have left.  Like I said, it seems to be catching on.

Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families throughout metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to Charlotte Bishop.

Copyright ©2011 Charlotte Bishop 

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