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A patient care manager supervises a clinical team. This member of the team protects the health and safety of the patient and acts as an advocate to improve patient outcomes. The work can take place in hospital, clinic, and home care settings, depending on the need, and typically requires a nursing certification, experience, and the ability to work well with large and potentially diverse groups of people. Compensation can vary and people may be eligible for higher pay if they hold additional certifications.
People who require complex medical care, particularly if they need to be hospitalized or will need to return on a regular basis for management of a condition, can experience better outcomes if a patient care manager is assigned to the case. This health care professional interacts with all members of the care team to keep the lines of communication open. Doctors and nurses involved in the case report to the patient care manager, who coordinates the information and ensures that everyone is made aware of important facts about the patient.
The patient care manager can draw the attention of team members to health care issues that are not adequately addressed, potential drug interactions and complications related to the patient's condition, and other issues that may arise in the management of the case. One part of this job involves reducing the risk of duplicate procedures and tests, as for example if a cardiologist requests an electrocardiogram and a surgeon preparing for a procedure also requests one to check on the patient's heart health. The patient care manager also tries to ensure that nothing goes untreated, and that the patient receives prompt treatment for new symptoms, side effects, and other concerns.
This can include working not just with health care providers, but also family members, social workers, and other people who may interact with the patient. Continuity and consistency of health care are important, but so is ensuring that patients receive adequate nutrition and care at home and in other environments. Patient care managers may help patients access affordable housing, refer them to nutritionists for help with meal planning, and connect their clients with housekeeping and other services to help them at home while they are ill.
The hours tend to be fairly regular, as patient care managers need to be available for meetings during regular business hours. In the event of an emergency when the care manager is not on duty, health care providers can provide an update later, once the patient is stable. This can be helpful for qualified health care professionals who want to maintain a work-life balance and prefer jobs with predictable, scheduled hours that are easier to plan around.