Tips for Writing Effective Case Management Notes

Case managers provide a plethora of services for clients that are focused on helping them achieve wellness and autonomy. The main goal of a case manager is to be a client advocate in various social services. This is a collaborative process bringing together multiple disciplines to assess, plan, coordinate, implement, and evaluate services for the client. Case managers are focused on meeting the clients’ needs that can be ever-changing. As such a note that is written by case managers will document their client’s progress, goals, and response to treatment.


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There are several formats that are utilized to write case management notes. It is up to the individual facility or group to determine the exact format such as BIRP, DAP, GIRP, PRP, SOAP, or a regular progress note. We will take a brief look at these note formats.

Case management notes formats

  • BIRP: This acronym stands for Behavior, Intervention, Response, Plan.
  • DAP: This acronym stands for Data, Assessment, Plan.
  • GIRP: This acronym stands for Goal, Intervention, Response, Plan.
  • PRIP: This acronym stands for Problem, Response, Intervention, Plan
  • SOAP: This acronym stands for Subjective, Objective, Assessment, Plan.

Case Management Note Formats

1. DAP Format

To use the DAP format for your case management notes, follow this outline.

  • Data:Record what the client said and what you observed during the session or while meeting with the client.
  • Assessment: Document what occurs during the session and how the client appears, including their apparent mental and physical state and nonverbal cues.
  • Plan: Note the client’s response to their treatment plan. Is there anything stopping them from meeting their treatment goals? Document their progress towards meeting their goals. Referrals to community resources or other agencies can be included in this area of planning.

2. BIRP Format

To use the BIRP format in your case management notes, follow this outline

  • Behavior- Document observations as well as statements and direct client quotes.
  • Intervention: The methods used by the case manager to address the clients goals, objectives, statements, and observations.
  • Response: The client’s response to the interventions and document any progress that has been made towards the treatment goals.
  • Plan: Course of action moving forward with the treatment goals and any revisions that need to be made to the treatment plan. Referrals to community resources or other agencies can be included in this area of planning.

3. GIRP Format

To use the GIRP format for your case management notes, follow this outline.

  • Goal: Document the goal or objective the client is working towards.
  • Intervention: Write down the intervention method the case manager will use to address the goals.
  • Response: Record the client’s response, including their verbatim statements along with any progress or steps that have been taken to reach their treatment plan goals.
  • Plan: Document the plan for the client’s next steps to move forward with treatment goals. The plan may need to be revised and this is a good opportunity to document this. Referrals to community resources can be included in this area of planning.

4. PIRP Format

  • Problem: This is a verbatim statement from your client regarding any problems or needs they are currently experiencing.
  • Intervention: The intervention will vary on the problem that your client is experiencing. Interventions can also be documented from the treatment plan.
  • Response: Documenting the client’s response to your intervention. This also includes documenting how the client is progressing towards their goals. This may include having to document a lack of progress.
  • Plan: Recording new or revised treatment plan goals or documenting the accomplishment of goals. Along with referrals to community resources.

5. SOAP Format

To use the SOAP format for your case management notes, you will follow these guidelines.

  • Subjective data: In this part of your case management notes, you’ll include your client’s subjective input about their plan of care. You will also want to include information your client provides, such as acknowledging fear or describing their pain. Here, it’s essential to include their chief complaint or problem in their own words.
  • Objective data:The objective data section of your client notes consists of factual information. Objective data is measurable, such as laboratory data and observations of a client’s situation and appearance.
  • Assessment: In this section of your note, you will write down an interpretation of your client’s level of progress or condition. The assessment section will determine whether you have resolved the issue or if the client requires further care.
  • Plan: You may also want to include information about your objectives with this client, such as the goals of care and specific recommendations for helping your client meet their goal. Progress towards their goal should be measured.

View Sample SOAP Note


Elements of an Effective Case Management Note

Ideal case manager notes are timely, clear, concise, accurate, readable, and most importantly factual. Whatever the note type a detailed and effective case management note will consist of the following:

Elements of an effective case management note

1. Accurate and Complete

One of the best practices for writing your notes is ensuring they are accurate and complete. Not only should you include a brief description of the interaction, but you may also want to add details relevant to this specific case that can help another person read your notes. The note must include your client’s name, date of birth, and medical record number. After writing your note, reread the note to ensure what you have written is accurate. You should also sign and date your case management note. Unfinished or incomplete notes are not acceptable.

2. Clear and Concise

More is not always better. When it comes to writing your case management notes, you should keep them clear and concise. Focus on the information that is relevant to your goals for case management. If you include too much unnecessary detail, it may be challenging to find the pivotal information you’re looking for in your case management notes.

3. Timely

Your case management notes should be completed in a timely manner. It is best practice for notes to be completed the same day. If you wait until the next day or several days after you will not be able to retain the details from the interaction with your client. It is crucial to carve out space in your schedule to write your notes. Write your notes as quickly as possible after making contact with a client.

4. Readable, Chronological

Case manager notes need to be readable. Typically, typing these notes makes it easier for other staff members to decipher and access them. Your software can also check the text for spelling and grammar issues.

Keep in mind that you want someone else to be able to read your notes and understand everything you’ve included. If your notes aren’t legible and an emergency arises, this can become a liability issue. Don’t use abbreviations or shorthand other staff members wouldn’t be able to understand. It is also important to organize your case management notes chronologically, with your most recent notes starting first.

Avoiding Common Case Management Notes Errors

Avoid Common Case Management Notes Errors

When writing your notes, you may want to avoid some common errors, such as:

  • Generalizations
  • Grammatical errors
  • Overinterpretations
  • Casual abbreviations
  • Shortcuts that compromise clarity
  • Biased, prejudicial, or negative language
  • Use of an unverified medical diagnosis

Using Technology to Aid in Case Management Note Documentation

You can use technology like ICANotes to ease the documentation burden while completing case management notes. The following are the benefits of using ICANotes software for case management note documentation.

  • Eliminate paper: The first step to eliminating paper from a practice is implementing medical records software. We offer a patient portal which supports your conversion from paper forms to digital documents.
  • Secure access: Our software offers concurrent, secure access across multiple remote users.
  • Convert your paper forms to electronic documents: You can convert paper forms to digital files. You’ll upload scanned images of your paper forms and attach them to your patient’s chart. Our software supports many file types, including DOC, JPG, GIF, TIF, PDF, BMP and PNG.
  • Exchange clinical documents: Through our clinical document exchange service, send patient documents electronically to other health providers through electronic fax or Direct messaging.
  • Implement a patient portal: Your clients can log in to a portal to populate their records and enter their history and demographics. You can also choose to create electronic intake forms people can fill out and sign on the patient portal. These appear on the patient chart in PDF form.

Request a Free Trial From ICANotes

At ICANotes, our behavioral health EHR reduces documentation time while improving compliance. Our EHR is the most clinically robust for behavioral health and has preconfigured templates for every setting and discipline. With our EHR, you can create comprehensive:

  • Initial Assessments
  • Case Management Notes
  • Treatment Plans
  • Group Therapy Notes
  • Clinical Summaries
  • Discharge Summaries

You can go paperless and manage your practice from the electronic device of your choice. Consider these features of our EHR.

  • Document management: With ICANotes, you can easily upload scanned photos and documents and securely receive and send documents via electronic fax or Direct messaging.
  • Scheduling: Our patient scheduling solution is incredibly user-friendly, allowing you and your staff to efficiently manage appointments.
  • Integrated billing system: With our integrated billing system, you can easily create superbills, statements and CMS forms. Accept checks, cash or credit cards.
  • Secure communication and messaging: Our fully HIPAA-compliant messaging system enables secure communication inside and outside the office.

If you are a behavioral health clinician who wants to know more about how to write case management notes or wants access to sample case management notes for, request a free ICANotes trial today.


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