What Characteristics and Qualities Can Predict a Successful Clinical Manager for Home Health Agencies?

The final rule for the Conditions of Participation (CoPs) requires home health agency (HHAs) to have a clinical manager to direct, coordinate, and communicate home health personnel and patient care services.  The clinical manager leadership role requires a health care professional who can coordinate services, collaborate with all disciplines, communicate effectively with residents and caregivers, critically process information, problem solve, and monitor/direct the patient’s plan of care to ensure patient – centered care is provided.  The clinical manager is the “glue” for patient – centered care.  The clinical manager must provide a level of supervision and leadership to develop, modify, monitor, and direct care accordingly to achieve the highest possible outcome for all patients.  Quality outcomes, patient satisfaction surveys, and star ratings are a few of the components greatly influenced by the clinical manager.

To be a clinical manager is not for a person who simply wants to stop providing hands-on patient care or doesn’t have the drive to take the lead on solving challenging situations with patients, caregivers, clinicians, leadership at senior living communities, group homes, or any other health care professionals coordinating services with home health agencies.  This positon can be stressful and requires constant communication with all providers involved in-patient services.  Depending on the size and processes of the home health agency, a clinical manager’s day will consist of reviewing orders, coordinating plan of cares, receiving comprehensive assessment/add-on discipline evaluation information, case conferences, clinician orientation, onsite clinician competencies, and numerous phone calls.   On average, clinical managers are responsible for coordinating care for between 75-100 patients. The overall success of the plan of care relies heavily on the clinical manager ensuring services are consistently provided and revised appropriately.

A clinical manager can be a nurse, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech-language pathologist, physician, social worker, or audiologist.  Home health agencies who are currently utilizing a clinical manager role, or a similar role, are most prevalent to employee-only registered nurses.  There are multiple characteristics associated with being a successful clinical manager besides a person’s clinical education.  Home health experience, critical processing skills, problem solving, quality of communication, coordinating services, utilizing efficient processes, multiple tasking, and willingness to continually learn are all key characteristics that could identify a potential clinical manager.  As home health evolves, clinicians of all disciplines should be considered for leadership positions.  The best candidate should be considered regardless of discipline.  A successful leader will utilize resources, research information, and collaborate with personnel regarding questions that are out of their scope of practice to determine appropriate care is delivered.

Home health provides a multitude of services from licensed professionals who may have the qualities necessary to be a successful clinical manager. Traditionally in home health, registered nurses are the most common profession in leadership positions.  As home health utilization continues to increase due to longer life expectancy, earlier identification of medical ailments, and hospital/skilled nursing shorter length of stay and decreased admissions, it is imperative for home health agencies to identify and hire an appropriate leader to be the clinical manager.

Appropriate utilization of physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech-language pathology services continue to increase with focus on achieving the patient’s functional goals and increasing quality of life.   A therapist who possesses the experience, skills, and qualities reviewed throughout the blog have the potential to be a successful clinical manager.  Limiting your options to one discipline will decrease your opportunities of identifying a clinical manager who has the ability to lead your clinical team to delivering exceptional quality care and conveying high quality outcomes.


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