Optimizing Case Management


In the months ahead there is going to be significant discussion within the workers’ compensation world about case managing supported by recovery coaches.  It was my experience preparing for and recovering from surgery that some form of patient education and recovery guidance was missing from the recovery process.  I believe the difference between a case manager and a recovery guide is the difference between managing the delivery of medical services as opposed to providing knowledge in the crucial areas of mindset, activity, rest and nutrition.  This August, at the 2023 WCI Convention in Orlando, NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton will deliver the keynote on the essential value of coaching injured workers through the recovery process.

Mr. Walton is a friend, colleague and a collaborator both on my book, The Optimized Patient, and the service that grew out of the ideas presented in the book.  He was also part of the “coaching team” during my recovery from multiple spinal fusions after a car accident.  Bill engaged me not as a “case manager”, but rather “peer-to-peer”, patient-to-patient. He shared with me the wisdom of the coach mentality.  “You want to talk to people who are coming back from the place you want to go”.  In my case, that place I wanted to go was fully recovered from spine surgery.  Without his help I am unsure of what my outcome might have been.

We are hoping that Bill’s celebrity, as well as his personal experience recovering from 38 orthopedic surgeries, will help bring to the attention of the entire workers’ compensation industry the importance of coaching in the recovery process.  I believe his perspective and history coaching recovering spine patients on a peer-to-peer basis is something the workers’ compensation industry should pay attention to.  

Interestingly, I thought we had struck on a whole new idea regarding patient-to-patient education and recovery coaching. We were delighted to learn along the way of developing the methodology to optimize patients that we are couple of steps behind the Centers for Disease Control.  This is an excerpt from their website.  You will also find a link to the entire page on their website. The CDC talks about self-management education in the following way, “SME programs come in a variety of formats, allowing you to choose the program that is right for you. If you prefer to move at your own pace, then an online or self-study program might be right for you. If you prefer to interact with other people with similar conditions, then you may want to consider an in-person group workshop.”  We have found the best outcomes by using both methods.    (https://www.cdc.gov/learnmorefeelbetter/index.htm )

Few, if any, workers in the world today know more about injury recovery than professional athletes.  The exciting part of Bill Walton’s desire to come and speak at WCI is that he sees the recovery process through the lens of teamwork and coaching.  Obviously, a professional athlete would.  It is my belief and my experience that Bill knew that patient education and coaching was missing from the recovery process.  Case managers teamed with peer-to-peer coaching from a trained recovery guide can be the synergy that helps injured workers get better faster and stay better longer.  I am proud to have Bill Walton on our team and grateful to WCI for helping to spread the message of the importance of teamwork and coaching to the recovery process of injured workers. 


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