At ICS, we believe that a key element of knowing our members better is understanding their neighborhoods—knowing what providers, community-based supports and other resources are nearby and accessible.
Our knowing a member’s neighborhood can make a huge difference. For example, if a member relies on medication for a chronic condition and her care manager notices her drugstore is going out of business, he can alert her to change her pharmacy so she doesn’t miss her medication. Moreover, information he learns on one member’s behalf can help other members in the same neighborhood—and vice versa.
“Knowing about the resources available in a community is another way of ICS treating a whole person, not just the condition that brings the member to ICS,” says ICS Chief of Operations Regina Estela. “Programs that help the member be more connected to their community help members to live a better life. We want to do whatever we can to help them to do that.”
To carry out this idea, ICS began making some big changes to our care management structure, starting with the borough with the largest number of members: Brooklyn. We call this innovation Neighborhood Care.
Earlier this year, we reconfigured our teams to manage members in Brooklyn according to zip code, which allows each one to concentrate on a smaller geographic region than previously. Team 2, formerly known as the Russian Team for its focus on ICS’s sizable Russian-speaking population, has been split into two geography-based teams. We now have four neighborhood-based teams in Brooklyn (2, 3, 4 and 12), and Russian-speaking care managers are now on teams spread across the organization.
Staff report that they like having their members close together. One care manager has nine members in the same building, cutting down on travel time and allowing her to spend more time getting to know each member. Another used downtime to walk around her members’ neighborhood, where she found a housing agency, an office for legal aid services, a food pantry and other useful resources that she later shared with her team.
Nurses are also pleased that they can meet with more members in less time because of the geographic concentration.
This month, Neighborhood Care is moving into the Bronx and Queens. In addition, Bronx members whose home health aides come from Cooperative Health Care Associates (CHCA), the largest provider of home health aides in the borough, will benefit from ICS’s Colocation program, in which ICS care managers collaborate closely with staff from our partners to improve members’ care. Colocation enables care managers embedded at CHCA to stay in ready communication with their members’ aides and their supervisors, giving them deeper insight into their members’ care needs. These embedded care managers will also be assigned members according to zip code as part of Neighborhood Care.
The next stop for Neighborhood Care is Manhattan, coming soon. Meanwhile, ICS’s specialty teams for people with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis and dementia are unaffected by the change and will continue to provide expert care for members with those specific conditions in all four of the boroughs we cover. It’s all part of our commitment to get members the care they need.