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The case management process: a step-by-step guide to success

May 05, 2021
In this image, a therapist begins the case management process as she listens to a client.

Case management is a collaborative process that assesses, plans, implements, coordinates, monitors, and evaluates the options and services required to meet the health and human services needs of those you serve.

At its core, case management is about transforming lives through individualized care and services that help those you serve to meet their personal goals. In this guide, we’ll use industry best practices to break down the key components and core principles of the case management process for human services agencies. Let’s get started.

Components of effective case management

A successful case management process consists of four core components: intake, needs assessment, service planning, and monitoring and evaluation. Let’s explore how they can be incorporated into a comprehensive case management system to collect data, track client success, foster organizational change, increase funding, and accelerate impact.  


Intake is the initial meeting between a case manager and a new client. During this time, the case manager gathers demographic information about them, identifies immediate needs, establishes trust, and builds a relationship. Case managers should collect the following information during this process: 

  • Past and current health conditions.
  • Socioeconomic and financial status.
  • Living situation and environment.
  • Prior social and health services accessed.
  • Physical, emotional, and cognitive functioning.
  • Health insurance coverage and benefits.

Intake helps a case manager to determine if a client would benefit from their organization’s services. If they are a good fit, the case manager will move on to assessing their individual needs. If their needs misalign with the organization’s service area, the case manager will refer them to an outside community resource.

How to level up your case management intake process: As you intake new clients, use your case management software solution to collect and organize the information you need to create complete client profiles.

Needs assessment

needs assessment builds on the information collected during the intake stage, going into greater depth about the client's challenges and goals. During this stage, the case manager’s primary objective is to identify their problems, interests, and risks to success. While every client goes through this stage when they start working with a human services agency, it’s important to reassess over time as needs and circumstances change.

How to level up your case management needs assessment process: With comprehensive case management software, leverage pre-made, evidence-based forms or create your own assessment tools to gauge client needs and accurately assign services.

Service planning

In the service planning stage, a case manager establishes goals for clients and the actionable next steps to meet those goals. Generally, goals should include specific outputs, outcomes, and metrics that can be used to assess their success. 

After setting goals, case managers will draft a case management plan that outlines the monitoring, supervision, and activities of a client alongside a clear timeline. 

How to level up your case management service planning process: Organize client information and case plans based on the programs and services they have been assigned. As their needs change, use your software to quickly update their records across services.

Monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation are critical to understanding the impact specific programs and services have on a client. Case managers should continuously monitor and evaluate their progress via the output and outcome metrics defined in the service planning stage to identify both obstacles and progress toward their goals. 

How to level up your case management monitoring and evaluation process: Consistently monitor results to achieve long-term outcomes. With built-in forms and reports, a comprehensive case management system can help you measure and manage client success with the push of a button. 

Human service organizations of all sizes require case managers to practice each of these four components to ensure client success, in addition to ensuring services provided are safe and helpful for each individual.

Core principles of case management

At the heart of every case management process are four core principles. These principles help protect clients and make your services and interventions more impactful:

  1. Build trusting relationships. Whether a case manager plays a large or small role, a trusting relationship throughout the case management process is key to engaging clients. From intake to monitoring and evaluation, provide them with a confidential, understanding, and empathetic environment to share their stories, challenges, and feelings.
  2. Empower your clients. In many ways, your relationship with clients should be a partnership. While you may take on the majority of the work at first, the ultimate goal of your case management practice should be to leave them with the confidence to assert their needs, articulate their story, and make healthy choices after your engagement is over.
  3. Use evidence-based strategies. Work collaboratively with clients to collect and analyze data through assessments, case notes, active listening, available research, and previous experience. Based on your analysis, you can determine what’s working for them and what could be improved. With these findings, you can adjust services and approaches as necessary.
  4. Leverage powerful tools. To ensure your organization maintains quality data collection and evaluation practices, use comprehensive case management software. With the tools to streamline intake and assessment, generate automatic reports, and share data according to industry standards, you’ll gather the information necessary to inform your practice.

By implementing these best practices, you can ensure the success of your entire community and ensure more positive outcomes for your clients.

Achieving success with the case management process

Case management is not a linear, straightforward process, but instead a cyclical, iterative one. In many cases, as you monitor and regularly evaluate clients, you’ll find that you need to re-assess their needs and plan new services to align with their evolving circumstances and achieve success.

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    Case Management
  • Healthcare
  • Human services
  • Public agencies
  • Coordinating social services