Laurie M. Robbins, BSN, RN, CBCN® is an oncology certified nurse and has worked in a variety of healthcare environments, including inpatient and outpatient oncology, and as an oncology clinical educator. Laurie is now an oncology case manager for UMR, the largest third-party administrator in the United States, using her years of knowledge and experience to serve the needs of members across all demographics and oncology diagnoses.
So when we log in the morning, we start getting cases assigned to us and we use a computer system that we have a queue, a working queue that has all of our tasks for the day. And any incoming new cases, once we accept that case, it assigns more tasks for that case so that we can track what we’re doing and all the outreach that we need to do. So I always check the queue first thing. Prioritize those tasks that are most important, and then check my Outlook calendar, make sure that I don’t have any meetings or training schedule. And if I do, I work the rest of my day around that. And that’s how I stay the most efficient and effective to keep the schedule going so that I can get as much done as possible.
In a case manager that works from home, I have a lot of flexibility in my day. I can schedule my day and structure my day however works best for me and my work model. I like to do most of my research, looking up clinical information, gathering other data in the mornings because a lot of times people are doing things with their family or getting ready for work or school, and it’s hard to get them on the phone I’ve found. So I do a lot of my clinical research and that kind of work in the morning and then start making my calls about 9:30. As far as calls in and out, I’m constantly calling members, calling family members, also calling hospitals or rehab facilities or skilled nursing, or even home health to get clinical updates for members who are currently receiving care.
And then we have a telephone system that we use to make all of our outbound calls, and we can use that to set it on different tasks so that they can see how much time we spend on each task. So that’s kind of how my day goes. It’s just constantly being flexible to move in and out between calls, between clinical tasks, between meetings and be able to jump back and forth depending on what the day brings and throws at you.
An example of a member interaction would be we call, “Hi, this is Lori. I’m a case manager from…” –the company I work for. And I’m reaching out to you to discuss with you some benefits that you might not be aware of and to see how I can best support you. We always of course tell them that the call is monitored or recorded because we have to tell them that every single call, no matter who we talk to, and also verify HIPAA. Period. You have to do those two things on every call. From there, for the members, it’s mainly about finding out what is their main problem, whether that be the medical diagnosis or the side effects from that diagnosis or treatment. So we find out what the main problem is, find out what their treatments are, what kind of supportive things that they need, whether that be DME or physical therapy or caregiver support or whatever they need. Target that need.
Provide education or reinforce education. If it’s chemo teaching, if it’s talking to them about doing their own physical therapy at home or taking care of themselves or drinking enough water, it doesn’t matter what it is. You’re a nurse. I’m a nurse. We know what to say, what to do, how they educate. That’s one of our primary roles. We also discuss side effect management. And then we talk to them about the resources that are available, whether that be community resources, support groups, resources that are available through their cancer center or their doctor’s office or wherever they are.
Provider call might be calling the provider’s office to get a clinical update or a last office visit note, or to find out if they started treatment yet. Or if they’re coming in for their Neulasta injection, because they’re home and they don’t feel good. And you figure that their white count may be down and they need some fluid resuscitation or whatever. So you do your assessment and then you call the doctor’s office and then they usually work with you really well. But that can vary sometimes depending on the doctor’s office, so that’s what my day looks like at any given time.