By COL Suzanne Scott, WTC Chief Nurse
As case managers, our “raison d’être” is to integrate and coordinate care and services for our patients in order to help them achieve optimum health or improved functional capability in the right setting. Recently, thousands of case managers from across the country gathered in San Antonio, TX, for the Case Management Society of America’s Annual Conference & Expo. This weeklong session was designed to help case managers improve the delivery of services to both individual patients and across organizations.
For the over 350 Department of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) case managers attending the conference, information-sharing and collaboration started early with a combined DOD/VA case management session to discuss hot topics within our individual healthcare settings. This year’s hot topics significantly impact the delivery of care to wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families. Topics included the Americans with Disabilities Act, suicide prevention, the Comprehensive Pain Management Campaign Plan, women’s health services in the VA, and patient-centered medical homes.
The keynote address was delivered by RADM Christine Hunter, the Deputy Director for TRICARE Management Activity. Hunter touched on each of the hot topics of interest to case managers and tied everything back to the delivery of quality, effective care by case managers. She specifically addressed the case managers caring for wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers, and discussed some of the how-to processes for case managers to effectively navigate TRICARE to coordinate network services for Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families.
Adriana Wilson and Susan Turner from the VA reinforced the critical skills case managers need in the area of suicide prevention. Through a series of vignettes based on actual patient encounters, the Wilson-Turner team drove home the importance of relationship building and the critical need for an ongoing thorough assessment process. Wilson reviewed current suicide statistics and Turner talked about key suicide warning signs to look for in our patients. The duo reminded attendees that as professionals, case managers must ask the right questions to have an impact on suicide prevention.
Ten case management teams from all military services and the VA presented best practices in a poster session. I hope to highlight a few key initiatives in future blog postings. As we walked around the room and talked to the presenters, it was evident that we continue to demonstrate the value of case management through the continued improvements made in individual practice settings.
The conference included a panel discussion with representatives from TRICARE Management Activity, Army, Navy, and Air Force on patient centered medical homes as well as a review of Defense Center of Excellence resources and tools for psychological health and traumatic brain injury for case managers.
At this point, I imagine you are asking, “What’s in it for me?” Well, you can expect that this team of over 350 case managers from DOD and VA returned home with improved skills and a wealth of knowledge on best practices from both military and civilian healthcare management that they will share with you to help continue to enhance warrior care. Case managers can expect in-service training to communicate new evidence-based practice findings and key initiatives. Wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and Families can expect an expanding resource list to help you through the transition process. Commanders and leaders can expect motivated case manager leaders to continue to facilitate warrior care and transition.