What is case management, exactly? Outside of the healthcare and social assistance sectors, there could be some ambiguity. The precise meaning of the term case management often eludes those in other industries, such as emergency management and work safety management, who most stand to benefit from implementing the practice.
Case management first emerged as a managed care technique, specifically in advanced healthcare and social assistance systems. The novelty it offered as a practice was simple: a more “holistic” means of handling patient care. As designed, case management more fully accounted for extra-medical factors like physical, emotional, financial, psychosocial, and behavioural needs, as well as related support systems.
Since its inception, though, case management has broken out of the narrow confines of healthcare and social assistance. It has made important forays to disaster, emergency, and safety management (among other sectors), as well as regulatory compliance. The question is why.
Well, at its core, case management is all about solving problems, especially gathering information (among other resources) and getting it distributed quickly. Case management can be understood as a collaborative work method (constituting multiple phases) to link people to the relevant and available resources they need to attain pre-determined goals. The problems themselves are deemed cases, representing pieces of work that deliver tangible business outcomes for a customer, employee, partner, or other stakeholder.
To business owners, that might sound like a task. But there are important distinctions between cases and tasks:
So, what are the benefits of case management to potential practitioners, such as safety, risk, compliance, and emergency managers? Well, these practitioners will often need to get lots of information gathered and distributed quickly.
Case management is useful, here, because it’s fundamentally adaptive, applicable to diverse types of complex, unpredictable work, all involving the accessing of fragmented resources (often data) to meet the fast-changing needs of clients.
Case management interventions form the link between the client and the service delivery system to yield better, faster outcomes. How, exactly? Well, practitioners (i.e., case managers) are enabled to more efficiently interact with the wider environment of information, resources, and services. In turn, those practitioners make more accurate decisions throughout the lifecycle of the case, which creates a better service experience for clients.
Of course, the core use cases that stand to benefit the most from these case management techniques have something in common:
In the above scenarios, work tends to rely on manual processes and systems that have become progressively more complex and convoluted. As a result, data hygiene suffers. So too does the ability of business owners to productively collect details and information in support of the case.
Zooming out, precise examples of the areas in which case management interventions can yield the highest dividends include:
Of course, the benefits of case management techniques don’t just happen, even if those benefits are applicable to diverse types of work. To be effective, case management involves multiple collaborative phases. Those case management phases typically include:
In practice, the phases above rarely unfold linearly. Business owners seldom complete a phase absolutely without returning to it in some fashion. That’s because the underlying business activity – be it disaster welfare granting, investigating safety and security incidents, or claims compensation – is so fluid and complex.
Indeed, the very unpredictable nature of the unpredictable work to which case management provides greater efficiency and transparency serves as a reminder that effective case management isn’t easy. The main challenges include:
Fortunately, digital case management technology can help better manage and improve the details of how work gets done in the context of that work’s desired outcome. By automating key facets of unpredictable work, digital case management technology increases visibility into complex operations, improves collaborations, and facilitates better stakeholder engagement.
Though a marked improvement over manual processes and systems (i.e., spreadsheets), case management systems aren’t a cure all. After all, not all technology is created equal. In fact, many systems don’t offer much more than workflows that manage the receipt, routing, and reporting of work.
Enabling the automating of the response and resolution of unpredictable works calls for much more robust functionality to manage all intelligence and case management incidents affecting a given organisation. Key system capabilities to look for include:
Finally, there are many definitions of case management. But at its core, case management is simply a way of helping people identify the areas where they need help and connecting them to the personnel and resources that will help them.
As a systematic problem-solving process, case management offers business process owners a way to perform unpredictable work more efficiently, by gathering and distributing information quickly and effectively. The challenges to effective case management, however, can’t be understated, especially resource limitations and frictions in information sharing. The right technology, like intelligence and case management software platform, Noggin, helps business process owners overcome those challenges, so as to get complex work completed quicker, with happier stakeholders. Keen to learn more? Request a demo of our product.
Published May 19, 2021