When I started in Occupational Rehabilitation many years ago, there were no Case Conferences. Now I meet with the Dr and client regularly and I don’t see how you can possibly run a case properly without doing that.
A Case Conference is usually a meeting with the injured person, the Dr and the Rehab Provider. You can also have a Case Conference with other treating professionals and/or the insurer which can be very beneficial but usually it is the injured person, you and the Dr. This outline is about a Case Conference with the local Dr or GP. Meeting with a specialist is a whole different thing that I am not addressing today.
Here are some tips for newcomers to help make Case Conferences more productive.
1) Make sure you book for a Case Conference. If you just attend a regular consultation, there may not be enough time and the Dr may even object to your attendance. By informing the Dr’s surgery that it is a Case Conference they will schedule more time, usually at least 30 mins, and the Dr has a chance to prepare.
2) The Dr doesn’t necessarily know how you fit in so make sure you explain who you are, including your profession and your role. Don’t assume they know just by looking at your business card.
3) Make sure the injured person is included in any discussion and try to keep the language in a form that they can understand.
4) Be clear from the beginning of the Case Conference, what it is you want to achieve. For example “We need to discuss John’s prognosis, and his Suitable Duties Plan”.
5) Make sure the Dr is aware that you are an ally. Drs will invariably be protective of their patient’s best interests (as you would hope!). If they see you as a bureaucrat pushing upgrades against the interests of their patient, you won’t get any co-operation. Explain your role.
6) Explain the system as you go. They may not be as familiar with the workers’ comp, CTP or other system as you would expect and probably won’t ask, so make sure you explain how the meeting fits in to the process of rehabilitation. You might explain for example how a Suitable Duties plan fits in to the rehab process. You may also need to provide some tips on filling in a Workers Comp medical certificate. Keep in mind this is taking place in front of their patient so phrase it in a way that doesn’t make the Dr seem lacking in knowledge.
7) Have your information ready. Make sure you have lots of great information to contribute to help the Dr do their job better. What does the person’s job involve, how are they going with ADL, how is treatment going, what are the person’s functional abilities, what are the barriers to return to work. Although the injured person can supply some of this information, you can deliver this information in a quick and concise manner and move the meeting along at a good pace. The purpose of the meeting will be clear once you outline the issues and if the Dr was wondering what the hell you are doing there you will quickly establish your function.
8) Be ready with questions. You will have your own questions so you will need to formulate those in advance but also be ready with questions from the injured worker. Sometimes they will ask you questions they would not ask the Dr because you spend more time with them. If they are of a medical nature and you don’t know the answer, you may be able to put these to the Dr more concisely than the injured person. Enocurage the injured person to ask questions themselves but keep and eye on the time.
9) Do not speak for the injured person, where ever possible, encourage them to state their own expereince and ask their own questions but do keep on top of the process so that the meeting moves along quickly.
10) Get the Drs signature on any agreement. I actually find this difficult as you end up hand writing a plan of some sort in the meeting and that just gets a bit awkward, however, if you can do it, it saves a lot of time later on, following up on signitures by fax or email.
11) If there is a medical certificate issued, read it then and there. Take the time to make sure you understand what the Dr has written. I have been caught out before when the Dr writes something slightly different than we discussed. I then have to follow up with various phone calls and other communications to establish why there is a difference. It may just be an administrative issue which could have been easily cleared up at the time. If it is more substantial then, better to have that sorted in the meeting than afterwards too.
12) Finally, try to make the meeting a pleasant experience. These guys and gals (ie the Drs) are locked away in small rooms, usually without windows for long hours. They don’t know what disease or condition will come through the door and they need to be an expert on everything because their patients rely on them. It is a tough job. If you can make your dealings with the Dr a positive part of their day, they are going to be much easier to work with. The injured worker will be reassured if the meeting goes smoothly too.
These tips are not exhuastive by any means and I am sure you can think of more. They are just a starting point really.
Please click “reply” if you would like to contribute another tip or if you disagree with something I have written. I love comments and so do other readers so go ahead.