What is the difference is between case manager and care manager?

By | 2022-05-05T11:44:21-04:00 September 11th, 2014|3 Comments


Dear Donna,

Can you tell me what the difference is between case manager and care manager? I am seeing openings for both, and I am confused about the difference, if any, between them.


Dear Donna replies:

Dear Confused,

There is a distinct difference between the two positions.

Nurse case managers focus on care coordination, financial management and resource utilization to yield cost-effective outcomes that are patient-centric, safe and provided in the least restrictive setting, according to the fourth edition of the “Nursing Case Management Review and Resource Manual.” The role will expand and become even more important as nurses strive to meet health outcome and cost containment goals of the ACA, according to Catherine M. Mullahy, BS, RN, CRRN, CCM, president of Mullahy & Associates, LLC, author of “The Case Manager’s Handbook” (fifth edition). Learn more about this specialty through the Case Management Society of America (www.cmsa.org).

Care managers work one-on-one with people with chronic illnesses or disabilities and their loved ones, usually in their homes. They function as liaisons with insurance companies and healthcare providers, help manage medications, create plans of care, research treatment options and more. They also are known as geriatric care managers, nurse concierges, professional patient advocates and nurse navigators. Learn more about this specialty through the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (http://www.caremanager.org/). This is a relatively new and growing specialty.

To further confuse the issue, there also is another new and growing specialty referred to as “care coordinator.” Care coordinators (aka population care or transitional care coordinators and nurse navigators) work with patients in hospital, home or office settings.

“I not only work one-on-one with a patient with diabetes, but I also look at our entire diabetic population and use aggregate data,” said Sandra Siegel, MS, RN, care coordinator at Hunterdon Healthcare Partners based in New Jersey. “In so doing, I’m working smarter and improving care for all.” Learn more about care coordination through the American Academy of Ambulatory Care Nurses (www.aaacn.org).

To understand where each of these and other specialties fit into the evolving healthcare delivery system and about what every nurse will need to do to stay connected and competitive going forward, read ”Nursing — A new paradigm” (www.nurse.com/Cardillo/Nursing-A-New-Paradigm).

Best wishes,

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