If you’re implementing care coordination and wellness programs at your practice for Medicare beneficiaries, you’re going to need someone to manage those programs.
Hiring and training effective care managers is crucial to the success of those programs.
But it’s also where many practices misstep. Hiring practices can sometimes be rushed to fast track implementation or for a variety of other reasons. Training too, can be limited or ineffective.
ThoroughCare has overseen and implemented several care coordination programs and worked with over 400 practices. In the process, we've accumulated knowledge and best practices to apply when hiring and training care managers.
Below we’ll walk you through strategies to hire and train the most effective care managers to give you the highest chance of implementing successful care coordination programs.
What A Care Manager Does
Care managers are what make these programs tick.
Guided and monitored by practitioners, care managers serve as the point of contact between the patient and practice and are essential to the program’s success.
There are a variety of roles a care manager may be responsible for, including:
Coordinating medical treatment, including administering assessments, developing care plans, monitoring medication compliance, and more
Relationship building with patients
Serving as advocates for and champions of the patients health
Connecting patients with social and community support systems for continuation of care
That’s a lot of responsibility for someone to take on, and only scratches the surface of their role.
That makes proper hiring and training even more important.
First, let’s tackle some strategies to hire the most effective care managers.
Best Practices For Hiring Care Managers
To hire effective care managers, you’ll want to closely examine and build out your hiring process. The following are some best practices for hiring effective care managers.
Creation of Hiring Policy
In creating a hiring policy, the main goal is to ensure that whoever does the hiring has guidelines to follow. This will allow hiring practices to remain consistent regardless of hiring manager changes and/or internal reorganization.
The hiring policy should detail best practices that we will expound upon below.
Hiring a diverse staff can make a profound difference.
While care managers must meet certain qualifications mandated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), effective hiring practices look beyond those legal qualifications.
Practices should consider things like emotional intelligence, passion for helping others, and well-rounded practical experience.
As a reminder, CMS requires care managers to be either a practitioner or one of the following certified resources:
Licensed Practical Nurse
Certified Medical Assistant
Health Coaches (in some areas)
In searching for a care manager with emotional intelligence and passion for helping others, you’ll want to select interview questions that reveal those traits.
Rather than simply looking at their resume and cover letter to see if they’ve had experience in difficult situations, ask specific, scenario-based questions that they can provide answers to with real world examples.
The second part of diversifying your staff involves building a well-rounded team with varying backgrounds.
The logic behind this is that your patients themselves come from a wide range of backgrounds, so having a staff with an equally wide array will allow you to build better relationships with your patients.
Lastly, try to choose staff that have managed or treated patients with a wide variety of diagnoses, such as in a primary care setting.
Since care managers will be counselling patients with 2 or more chronic conditions, the prior knowledge of several health conditions helps make the care provided more effective.
While having a strong educational background is important, we mean something else when we talk about emphasizing education.
When interviewing, look for the candidate’s desire to increase their knowledge and continue their education, whether in-school or through training.
The healthcare industry is rapidly evolving and having staff that is not only willing to adapt and evolve along with it, but is excited to, can make a world of difference.
Training Care Managers
After hiring care managers, you’ll need to provide training not just for the role they were hired for, but continuing education training opportunities as well.
Develop A Training Program
Whether you utilize a 3rd-party vendor or provide your own in-house training, you’ll want to have a system in place for staff to be trained in the role of a care manager upon hiring.
An addendum to this program should then focus on continued training throughout their employment. By investing in your staff, your staff will become more invested in your practice, in the work they do, and most importantly, in their patients.
With the initial training upon hiring, you’ll want to focus on the following areas to properly train care managers:
Defining the scope of the care manager role
Relationship building with patients
Understanding Medicare and Medicaid rules and regulations
That last bullet point is important. If your practice offers multiple programs to patients, you’ll have to decide if you’ll have the care manager(s) work with patients across the programs, or if they’ll be solely program specific.
Regardless of the materials you choose to cover in training new hires, you’ll want to provide both instructional and hands-on, experience-based training to best prepare your care managers.
Dedicated Staff Trainer
This may not apply to every practice, but is a beneficial idea for larger practices with multiple care managers.
Having a staff member whose full-time job will be training your care managers can increase the effectiveness of your care managers.
This trainer can ensure that care managers have a constant support system in place to answer any questions and provide guidance. Oftentimes these trainers are former care managers themselves and can serve as a valuable resource for your staff.
Finally, a full-time trainer will allow your training materials to be continually updated to adapt to the ever-changing rules and regulations and patient needs in the healthcare industry.
This last strategy is an often overlooked one, especially in the healthcare industry.
Institutionalizing candor creates a culture that promotes open dialogue among care managers, patients, and staff. By doing this, you allow a free sharing of information and ideas to continually improve the quality of care you provide.
Fear of failure often holds both people and business back from succeeding to their full potential. Through institutionalized candor, you eliminate that fear of failure and embrace innovative thinking.
You’ll create an environment that encourages and allows self-assessment as well. This can aid in managing your care managers and allow them to improve in their own roles.
Remembering The ‘Why’
In hiring and training care managers, it’s important to remember why you are doing so. Why are you providing these programs in the first place? Going even deeper, why did you get into healthcare?
The number one ‘why’ across the board is the desire to help your patients. To improve their health.
Your care managers are essential in your ability to provide high quality care and thus, you need to emphasize their hiring and training as much as you emphasize the care clinicians provide to their patients.
The strategies that we’ve shared come from a collection of best practices that have been shown to be successful across all of the providers we have worked with the past 5 years.
To make the life of your care managers easier, practices should use a care management software. ThoroughCare is one such intuitive software solution that is built by clinicians, for clinicians.