What Is Care Management’s Role in Behavioral Health?
As a concept, care management is relatively new in the behavioral health sector. But its roots are as old as medicine itself. Care management’s philosophy is one of coordinating care and services provided by multiple entities in order to assist people with chronic physical and/or mental health problems. We apply the care management philosophy in behavioral health to assist people with substance abuse disorders and ongoing mental health concerns.
A good way to think of care management’s role in behavioral health is to compare it to project management on a construction site. The project manager’s role is to coordinate everyone involved in the project to make sure all the work is completed efficiently. Likewise, the care manager’s role is to coordinate healthcare providers, health systems, patient advocates, etc., with the ultimate goal of facilitating the best possible outcome.
Patient Assessment and Treatment
There are several key aspects to care management’s role in behavioral health, beginning with improved patient assessment and treatment. Care coordinators work closely with clinicians during patient assessment and evaluation. They coordinate the development of personalized treatment plans.
Care coordinators can work with everyone from psychiatrists to therapists and social workers. By bringing all the stakeholders together in a collaborative environment, assessment and treatment are enhanced.
Additional Service Coordination
Patient evaluations and treatment plan development are only the starting point for patients. From there, it is a matter of receiving the necessary services. Once again, care coordinators play a vital role. They seek to identify and fill any gaps in services. They look to coordinate services in order to avoid duplication.
In addition, care coordinators collaborate with social workers, community organizations, and other stakeholders to ensure seamless care from the patient’s perspective. This can involve anything from obtaining referrals to removing any barriers that would prevent a patient from accessing services.
Monitoring Patient Progress
Care management plays a vital role in monitoring patient progress throughout a given course of treatment. As a mental health consulting company, we have seen firsthand how proper monitoring has impacted both patients and service providers. Proper monitoring facilitates a treatment continuum and offers a quantifiable way to measure the value of the services being provided.
As you know, patient monitoring is vital to behavioral health. Even the slightest change can throw off a patient’s entire treatment regimen. In turn, this can significantly impact quality of care and patient outcome.
Following Up with Patients
Monitoring patient progress includes following up with patients after the fact. Perhaps a particular treatment seemed to be helpful at the time. Confirming an expected long-term benefit requires follow-up in order for care coordinators can visit patients. They check in to verify treatment plan adherence, the effectiveness of said treatments, and whether additional intervention is necessary. Care coordinators are also tasked with helping patients navigate support services offered outside of formal treatments.
The Bridge Between Clinician and Patient
Another way to understand care management’s role in behavioral health is to view the care manager as a bridge between clinician and patient. The clinician provides treatment based on patient data and quality of care best practices. The patient receives treatment based on a reasonable hope and expectation that it will work. The care manager is the one who coordinates all aspects of treatment to establish outcomes.
Few areas of medicine benefit from care management as much as behavioral health. If you would like to know more about how it can improve the services your organization provides, we would be more than happy to sit down and discuss it with you.
Let’s Get to Work, Together
Contact us to learn more about how Horizon Health can help you start a behavioral health program or take an existing program to new heights.