When managing health, some people require the support of professional care providers who plan and coordinate their care. Both case managers and care managers play key roles in providing such care, but in different ways.

Understanding the difference between case manager vs. care manager is necessary to make the proper choice on the type of care you need for yourself or a loved one who requires the help of a professional care provider. This includes those who need support in day-to-day life at home or customized care for coordinating plans and accompanying people when they travel.

Differences and Similarities With Case Manager vs. Care Manager

For those researching the type of care they need, the choice between case manager vs. care manager might provide a roadblock. It’s confusing to many. While the two share some similarities, they have key differences. The following provides an overview of both.

Who Is a Case Manager?

A case manager is often called a nurse case manager. The term “case management” has been around much longer than care management. It refers to healthcare professionals, typically nurses, who coordinate the overall care for patients. 

In most situations, a case manager works directly for a healthcare facility, such as a clinic, hospital, or outpatient care facility. The American Case Management Association for example is a professional community of care management professionals who provide care for people in many different situations and with a wide range of services.

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The Nursing Case Management Review and Resource Manual refers to case managers as those who “focus on care coordination, financial management and resource utilization to yield cost-effective outcomes that are patient-centric, safe and provided in the least restrictive setting.”

Case manager duties may include the following.

  • Developing a recovery time frame and monitoring its progress
  • Providing advice to clients and their families on critical decisions
  • Making the recovery process more efficient, including building relationships with other medical professionals
  • Providing healthcare-related financial advice to clients and their families
  • Encouraging a holistic approach to recovery
  • Monitor the patient’s emotional well-being and keeping them motivated

Who Is a Care Manager?

A care manager works individually with patients, helping to create care plans that help them through various stages of care as well as the transition between each. Organizations like the Aging Life Care Association® offer consultation, assessment, care coordination and advocacy to help individuals and their families find care managers who often work directly for the patient or with private agencies. They provide direct support to their client, taking an active role in each stage of care.

Care managers usually work with patients in their homes or during travel. They may work as a liaison between insurance and healthcare providers, managing medications and researching treatment options in addition to creating healthcare plans. Care managers, while relatively new, already have many job titles, including geriatric care managers, nurse concierge, and professional patient advocate.

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Typical tasks of a care manager include the following.

  • Visiting patients in their home regularly to assess their health and wellness progress and discuss any changes needed to their healthcare plan, medications, etc.
  • Assessing a client’s medical care, including its suitability and legality
  • Ensuring patients know their rights
  • Ensuring that the health plan is meeting those rights
  • Offering professional advice and information to patients, their caretakers and loved ones

While they have some similar job duties, knowing the differences between case managers vs. care managers can help patients and their families make the best choices on their healthcare services.

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