Case manager conference builds bridges with HME

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

ATLANTA – Although case managers have long been a part of the Medtrade attendee roster, 2003 marks the first time a seminar series has been scheduled especially for them.

In an effort to “officially” include case managers, Medtrade sponsor VNU Expositions has agreed to co-host the Academy of Certified Case Managers’ first regional conference at the Georgia World Conference Center this year. The ACCM’s inaugural eastern regional conference will run concurrently with the Medtrade show on Oct. 10-11.

By appealing to them collectively, conference organizers hope to create an atmosphere where case managers feel comfortable interacting with the traditional HME provider audience.

“Case managers are primary referral sources for providers and there are rules of engagement they need to know,” said Cory Smith, VNU’s group show director. “The idea is for both sides to network together and build bridges.”

Gary Wolfe, RN, executive vice president of ACCM, agreed having an established presence at Medtrade can only serve to strengthen the bonds between his constituency and the HME side.

“This is a great opportunity to bring providers and case managers together,” he said. “We have common goals in serving clients, improving outcomes and controlling costs. It’s a natural fit.”

ACCM reports there are some 25,000 certified case managers working in the field and nurses and social workers comprise the bulk of that group. They are employed by various organizations, including insurance companies, hospitals, physician practices, rehab facilities, psychiatric clinics, home care agencies and medical equipment companies.

The two major topics on the case managers’ conference agenda are legal issues and patient safety.

“From a legal standpoint, we’ll be looking at HIPAA requirements,” Wolfe said. “Even though we’re long past the April 14 deadline, we’re still getting into how it really works. In addition, health care has become litigious in various regions. We need to figure out how to protect ourselves and our employers.”

Case managers also influence patient safety, he said, because they are responsible for creating a home environment that is conducive to safeguarding the patient’s well being.

Yet if there’s one thing case managers want HME providers to know about their profession, Wolfe said, it’s how case managers can help providers financially.

“We can make sure that the HME provider gets paid,” he said. “We know the insides of these companies and can facilitate that process.”

Various estimates set case manager attendance at about 300 for previous Medtrade shows, but Smith contended that number is “a bit high” because discharge planners are in the same classification. While the ACCM conference may not immediately boost case manager attendance, the program’s intent is to deepen the experience for those who already attend.