At the beginning of 2020, fear was unleashed globally as the United States government announced a public health emergency regarding a mysterious respiratory illness. Shopping centers became overcrowded with people rushing to buy water, food, and other necessities in what could have been described as a pre-apocalyptic form of preparation. Lives were turned upside down as people were left to address unique and unforeseen challenges. Systems such as healthcare and state unemployment compensation became overwhelmed as legislators hurried to develop immediate risk mitigation strategies to soften the blow. However, it quickly became clear that United States infrastructure was ill-equipped to manage the magnitude of this new threat.
As the press became understandably focused on direct losses due to the pandemic, the overall scale of the fallout from the pandemic became apparent. In Autumn of 2020, it was noted by Medical News Today that the percentage of adults who reported feeling depressed had increased more than three-fold since the beginning of the pandemic. As abused individuals spent more time at home, domestic violence cases rose throughout the globe. Children stayed home from school, which put additional strain on families already struggling as they grappled with finding caretakers and maintaining employment. These are only a few examples where psychosocial concerns became increasingly arduous. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this was especially true for those with pre-existing diseases.
Care managers are uniquely positioned to develop an action plan to assist those struggling with chronic disease, psychosocial stressors, and other problems exacerbated by COVID-19. Limitations such as time constraints may prevent physicians from developing the detailed and personalized action plan a patient requires to address the complex interplay of challenges that continue to arise due to COVID-19. To make matters more complex, COVID-19 itself has produced additional resource constraints for providers.
Although the best strategy for healthcare redesign during this pandemic continues to evolve, an integrated approach has historically been shown to improve health outcomes for those with chronic disease. Care managers are vital for healthcare integration and valuable members of the care team. Care managers are often able to spend more time with patients. In addition, they are specially trained to take a holistic approach when working through a patient's health and social concerns. They frequently follow up and are expected to be familiar with local educational and social resources. Care management plans are implemented and monitored to produce results, as they assist with the coordination of care and ensure compliance with treatment plans. Employers and payers can also collaborate to ensure that care management resources are included as part of an effective employee wellness strategy. In the words of Helen Keller, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much."