Collaboration of case managers and doctors: a common goal

Effective collaboration between case managers and doctors is essential to ensure comprehensive and well-coordinated healthcare. Doctors provide medical and diagnostic expertise, while case managers contribute their knowledge of various resources, insurance systems, and social support. Together, they can ensure that individuals who are ill or injured receive the appropriate treatment, economic factors are not overlooked, and the healing process is optimally supported and coordinated. 

What does this look like in practice? Based on a shared case, the psychiatrist involved, Dr. Charles-Edouard Rengade, was prepared to answer some questions from XpertCenter case managers Claire-Lyse Jaquet and Isabelle Pellet.

The interview was held in French and highlights the strengths of such a collaboration from a psychiatrist’s perspective.

Some brief details regarding Dr Rengade: He describes himself as a pragmatic psychiatrist who appreciates the benefits of an interdisciplinary approach. He has many years of experience in supporting individuals with illness and has also written several specialist books.

What is your understanding of the term “case management”? “Case management aims to empower the person receiving support and is strongly geared to their resources. The case manager is a trusted confidant of the person affected and some sort of a “voice” for the involved environment. He or she pursues a jointly defined goal with the patient over a limited period. Case management has negotiating skills that are very useful for the person affected. Prolonged incapacity for work can soon lead to the loss of ties to society and the world of work. If timely and appropriate questions are posed, this can be prevented”.

To what extent did collaboration with the case manager and her presence help in the case of your patient? “The involvement of case management enabled various disability insurance measures to be implemented more quickly and issues from the patient’s environment to be addressed, such as difficulties at the workplace. These can have a very strong impact on mental health. The case manager’s commitment helped the patient to view the various causes of stress in a differentiated manner and define her responsibility and scope of action better. The patient is at present gradually returning to working life and regaining her personal sense of balance.”

How do you as a doctor benefit from the presence of a case manager? And how does the patient benefit? “As a specialist, the case manager contributes a different perspective. He or she is able to supplement the medical factors with an assessment of the patient’s broader environment. For patients, the support and presence of a case manager can be a source of creativity. Furthermore, the network is able to position itself better. However, good coordination is important. To this end, the various parties involved should if possible, meet in person.”

Why can it make sense for a case manager to attend a medical appointment? “In order to facilitate coherent treatment by considering the patient’s environment. Case management facilitates the implementation of changes, helps those affected to broaden their perspective and question circumstances. It frequently also has a destigmatising effect.”

When or under which circumstances do you as a psychiatrist think that case management should be deployed?  “Case management is very helpful if the mental health problems are among other things attributable to relationships or the working environment. This can enable psychosocial risks to be brought under control effectively.”

Is there room for improvement? “Case management is still deployed too infrequently. More systematic application would be desirable.”

How can your colleagues be convinced of such collaboration? “Many psychiatrists above all fear the interference of insurers in their treatment. They need to be informed and educated in this regard. In addition, the question of professional secrecy and the disclosure of information concerning patients’ needs to be addressed. It is important for the collaboration to succeed that the patient perceives the relationship of trust between case management and doctor.”