Beth Wittmer: Care Management Programs Help Deter Hospitalizations

April 29, 2019

Having a care management team in place builds trust with patients so they are caught before something really serious happens that sends them to the emergency department, said Beth Wittmer, RN, OCN, manager of care management at Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute.

Having a care management team in place builds trust with patients so they are caught before something really serious happens that sends them to the emergency department, said Beth Wittmer, RN, OCN, manager of care management at Florida Cancer Specialists and Research Institute.

Transcript

What sorts of issues for patients might slip through the cracks normally that get caught when a proper care management program is in place?

Well one of those is nutrition, so we do have dieticians that work with patients very closely, especially the high-risk patients. So pancreatic, colon cancer, people are at higher risk with dietary issues. Head and neck cancer, where they’re doing radiation and chemo combined, and they can’t eat, they can’t swallow, so they end up with a [percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy] tube. Those are high-risk people that we really want to watch closely.

Things that can happen if we didn’t have our care management in place, then those kind of proactive phone calls wouldn’t be happening, and those patients would be really sick before they often will call us. So, building a trust relationship with them and they realize like, “Oh hey there’s a nurse on call 24/7. I don’t mind calling her at 3 in the morning.” They won’t call their doctor because they don’t want to bother them, but they are okay with calling a nurse which is good because we then can alert the physicians and say what’s happening.

So we’re able to prevent a lot of ER visits and we’ve proven that in the first year with [the Oncology Care Model] by an 18% drop in hospitalization.