Most individuals in social services are familiar with the fundamentals of case management, but integrated case management (ICM) may be a new term for many. This is because it is a fairly recent concept which is just starting to see widespread adoption across the social services industry.
Keep reading to find out what integrated case management is, how it differs from traditional case management and how your organization can benefit from it.
According to the New Jersey Health Link website, their integrated case management services “are consumer-centered services provided predominantly off-site in the consumer’s natural environment.” Maine, on the other hand, describes their ICM program as, “a voluntary, family-focused, strength-based program that uses an independent facilitator to bring all relevant people, including providers, family and natural supports, to the table.”
Fundamentally, this type of evolved case management involves taking a holistic approach to case management and enables providers to address social and environmental problems that may be contributing to medical or mental health concerns. It is essentially a philosophy that offers case managers new tools for aiding their clients and a different way of looking at their concerns. The concept, when expanded, could also be used to identify community-wide concerns across multiple problem areas.
Benefits of Integrated Case Management
Integrated case management (ICM) is becoming quite widespread for good reason as it offers a number of benefits over a more traditional approach to case management. Here are some reasons we have noticed:
- ICM takes into account social and environmental factors that may be negatively affecting a patient.
- ICM allows case workers to address the root of a problem rather than the symptom.
- ICM takes a holistic view of individuals and their physical/mental health needs.
- ICM allows for solutions which are integrated with the patient’s life and lifestyle .
- ICM can include a patients’ family into the healing process.
- ICM breaks down barriers between different areas of the social services and allows for collaborative solutions.
Integrated case management is a new practice, but one which is quickly spreading through many facets of the social services industry. This type of approach is made easier by having an effective system in place for online document management and client tracking. A software program such as Social Solutions ETO software can enable case workers to observe trends that might not otherwise be apparent. A good software system also allows the social worker or case manager to make decisions based on evidence while helping the organization further refine its processes or gain new funders through evidence-based analysis.
For those interested in learning more about this burgeoning field, The Case Management Society of America offers an integrated case management training curriculum. The program is designed to help case managers from either a medical or mental health practice adopt a more holistic approach to their work that will enable them to better help their patients.