If you want to be a case manager in the medical field, you'll need strong organizational skills, communication skills, and a consistent work ethic. Case managers offer management services to patients and patient units through careful evaluation of the care given to patients. While you're not performing tests or medical tasks, you're overseeing the bigger picture of ongoing care for patients, and you're making decisions that influence the quality of care, emergency status, and resources needed to take care of patients.
According to Coventry Healthcare, as a case manager, you'll handle the documentation in patient files in a standard format. You will need to learn a particular case-filing language and structure that other hospital and clinic employees can easily interpret. This cuts down on mistakes with services, procedures, and medications. You also need to be exact. Besides the collection and recording of data, this job requires a systematic way of collating all records for easy access by medical staff. If you've got sharp attention to detail and organization skills, this may be the job for you. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a case manager must stay apprised of new laws and policies regarding the storage and confidentiality of medical records.
Be On Call
As a case manager, you should also be willing to work long hours -- looong hours. This means sacrificing some weekends and leaving the cell phone by your side when you get home in the evening. Patients' needs don't end at 5 o'clock, so although the job is managerial in nature, it is not a typical office job on a 9 to 5 schedule. As a health-care case manager, you should be flexible and willing to work even after the business day closes. If a member of the medical staff has a question about a patient's files, you should be ready to answer in or out of the office. Just like other health-care professionals, you should have the passion to serve and provide, especially those who need care in unexpected circumstances. The job won't likely be fulfilling if you're only seeking a high paycheck.
While hospitals and clinics certainly need to cover costs, a case manager's priorities lie in the patients' care and financial planning. You may have to help a patient and her family create affordable care plans for treatments that are expensive and high-risk. Coordinating with a patient's family members and with health-care professionals is necessary, and you'll want to have graceful verbal skills. The case manager not only implements policies and ensures that quality care is arranged, but she also helps family members handle their financial and emotional burdens. While much of the job is performed with charts, computer programs and spreadsheets, a human element of communication and collaboration is certainly part of the job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a case manager may also have to represent her medical staff in board meetings. This means that you'll need to understand both the medical and financial sides of the equation.
Helping patients is more than just offering affordable health-care packages. It also requires listening to their needs, complaints, and suggestions. This means being present and available to patients. You should be able to document both negative and positive comments about the services they received and reconcile them to the guidelines and policies of the company or medical facility. As a case manager, you're a mediator between a highly skilled doctor or nurse and a patient in strong need of both medical and emotional care. You'll want to be an active listener and a patient, strong communicator every day on the job.
Jan Archer holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Roth has written trade books for Books-a-Million and has published articles on green living, wellness and education topics. She taught business writing, literature, creative writing and English composition at the college level for five years.