Nurse Care Manager Contribution to Quality of Care in a Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plan

Published In: Journal of Gerontological Nursing, v. 38, no. 7, July 2012, p. 44-54

Posted on RAND.org on July 01, 2012

by Carol P. Roth, David A. Ganz, Lorraine Nickels, David H. Martin, Robin Beckman, Neil S. Wenger

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We evaluated the quality of care provided to older patients with complex needs in a dual-eligible, community-based Medicare Special Needs Plan that used a nurse care manager model. Care provided by physicians was substantially supplemented by nurse care managers, as measured by Assessing Care of Vulnerable Elders quality indicators. We describe selected nurse care manager activities for six geriatric conditions (falls, dementia, depression, nutrition, urinary incontinence, and end-of-life care) during provision of patient care coordination and management for patients in the highest decile of clinical complexity. We identify areas of high nurse performance (i.e., falls screening, functional assessment, behavioral interventions for dementia problems, advance care planning) and areas of potential missed opportunities (i.e., follow up for new memory problems, targeted dementia counseling, nutrition, and behavioral approaches to urinary incontinence). Increasing the collaborative interaction between nurses providing care in this model and physicians has the potential to enhance nurses' contributions to primary care for vulnerable older adults.

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