By: Penelope Carlevato, Rn
Making The Case For Case Management At Rehab Innovations
staying on top of everything during and after a life-changing auto- or work-related accident can be daunting. There are numerous office visits to the many doctors and healthcare specialists, prescriptions needing to be filled or refilled, finding someone to help with the paperwork with the insurance… the list goes on and on.
But many patients and their families are unaware of a resource available to them: hiring a case manager to help work through the maze of tasks accompanied by a severe accident, or for additional help with geriatric needs.
In 2004 Nicole Ulrich, RN and Certified Case Manager, launched Rehab Innovations with her husband Richard’s encouragement. Richard served as office manager, and in 2011 the first full-time employee was hired. Today the company has 26 full-time employees, and provides services to the entire state of Michigan and northern Ohio. Nicole is the CEO and Richard is the CFO of Rehab Innovations.
Rehab Innovations matches clients with case managers to find appropriate medical care and solutions, to aid in the process of healthcare needs via the most cost-effective options. Having all this information in one place gives clients and their families peace of mind while getting the best care possible. Since many accidents also result in traumatic brain injuries, the client might have confusion and disorientation, which contributes to the difficulty of getting the right care or being able to follow a plan of care. Nicole has a unique team approach to business. The custom need of each client is considered when assigning staff members to accommodate both the medical and human service needs, with the ultimate goal of improving outcomes and reducing the possibility of re-admission to the hospital. Each patient is individually matched with a case manager, using specific criteria: physical location of patient and manager; skill sets of managers to the specific needs of patients; and the ability to “click” with one another.
In rare cases, if the fit is not working, Nicole will find another case manager to work with the client. Nicole reports this is an infrequent situation, as she is blessed with an amazing group of employees who go above and beyond for their patients. If, during the course of care, an assigned manager is not available, the office can be contacted by the patient and the questions or problem addressed, eliminating the interruption of quality care while waiting for a manager to be available.
Nicole took her experience as a Registered Nurse and Certified Caseworker as springboards to create her own company. Combining her background with the desire to be a patient advocate, she called upon her entrepreneurial passion to found her own company. Rehab Innovations is a cost-effective, courteous and professional service for medical case-management services. They are passionate about customer service and satisfaction, and because medical care has become so specialized and, many times, confusing, hiring a case manager from Rehab Innovations gives great comfort and relief to their many patients.
What is a case manager? Do I need a case manager? Can I afford a case manager? These are the many questions Nicole can answer. Before Nicole opened her business, she observed numerous clients and their families frustrated and discouraged, trying to work through the complicated process of health care. She knew she could help cut through the red tape of the many agencies involved, and close the gap in care for patients.
Nicole Ulrich has a passion for helping people find their way through the maze of treatments often needed for medical care and healing. She realizes that she meets clients at some of the most stressful and painful times in their lives. They are unsure of their recovery process and how it will affect them financially. Many are not receiving the care they need and don’t know where to turn for help.
Her experience in the healthcare industry gives her an advantage as an advocate for patients in this uncertain time in their lives. Rehab Innovations employees are gratified when they can witness the process of taking patients from their initial injuries, follow them in the process of healing and rehabilitation, experience their full recoveries, and return to their prior lifestyles. Nicole feels this is the most rewarding part of her business.
Rehab Innovations offers highly skilled and experienced nurses and social workers on their team. Medical care is not just physical, but often clients will need emotional support for the mental stress that accompanies serious accidents. The added resources of a Case Manager bring relief and reassurance, as the physical process of healing continues. The entire care team works together to facilitate a positive outcome. As the population continues to age, many clients need the help of a Case Manager due to dementia or Alzheimer’s. New clients will meet with a case manager from Rehab Innovations at their homes, in the hospital before discharge, or at a rehab facility, freeing the injured person from additional travel.
Rehab Innovations has the latest computer technology to provide information in keeping track of appointments with all the medical providers; and interacts to enhance communication among all team members. The company is fully staffed with experienced personnel to provide the necessary documentation for insurance, disability, transportation, and legal issues. They pledge to stay in close touch with all their clients.
Every patient needing continued care after a life-threatening auto injury has the right to choose their own case manager. In the state of Michigan, a patient should always ask specific questions of their health care provider, and especially their case managers. A well-informed patient has a distinct advantage in proceeding through the health care system.
Nicole received her nursing degree from Wayne County Community College in 1998 and is continuing her education to obtain her BSN and MSN from Kaplan University. Completing the Small Business Administration’s Emerging Leaders Program in 2014 gave Nicole additional help in cultivating and growing her business. She continues to receive support from the SBA and SCORE programs to advance and implement positive changes to her company.
Her goal for Rehab Innovations is to continue to grow and be there for those who need help in regaining their health and healing. She has determined that her company walks beside their patients while moving forward as they get the best cost-effective treatment available.
The most challenging part of being CEO of her own company is keeping up with the constant flux of insurance requirements for Case Management billing and reimbursement. She is blessed to have an amazing internal office staff who keep up with this constant change, while working with the many insurance companies.
Nicole is an avid golfer, loves spending time with her family, and volunteers for many activities in her home area, around Waterford. She participated in “Dancing with Our Stars” in September to support an adaptive sports program that provides ballroom dancing for people with disabilities. And “this just in!” – she won $33,000 for the RIM foundation, the Rehabilitation Institute at Michigan Hospital.
Richard is especially thankful for the sacrifice and service of Military Men, Women and Veterans. He desires to assist Veterans who have suffered traumatic brain injuries in any way possible, and is very active in that work.
Nicole and Richard are the parents of two grown children. Their son Josh specializes in IT work with his parents in their offices; and their daughter Lauren is a recent graduate from MSU. Their rescue dogs, Bogey and Divot, accompany them to work every day. As Rehab Innovations continues to grow, Nicole is excited to know that she and her company are making a difference in many lives.
Nicole is available to answer any questions from Innovative Health Magazine readers and is available for free one-time case evaluations. She can be reached at her office Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Case Manager Q & As
What is a Case Manager and why do clients need one?
A case manager is someone who will provide a complete assessment of the patient’s condition and implement the plan of care required. Having one person accountable for the full cycle of care gives continuity and accountability to the process. The case manager will monitor the care given and evaluate if changes need to be made in the process. An overall view by a professional and effective case manager will eliminate unwanted and unnecessary treatment and also offer solutions; and, many times, recommend the best actions required to create plans for higher quality and cost-effective care.
Do I need a Case Manager?
Trained professional case managers develop a plan of care and make sure things go smoothly. They step in to help effectively integrate data from all the sources collected and produce a two-way communication system between the client and the caregivers. Having a case manager takes the guesswork out of the total care situation and leads to positive clinical and financial outcomes.
Can I afford a Case Manager?
In the state of Michigan, under the Michigan Auto No-Fault Laws, this is a covered benefit. Many long-term insurance policies also have this service as a benefit. Despite the cost, case managers usually save patients and their families money as the care and treatment received is based on the patient’s specific needs at the time. A better answer to this question appears to be, “I really can’t afford not to have a case manager”!