Human services is a field that meets a wide range of human needs by delivering services to specific groups in an effort to improve their quality of life. Human services agencies can provide community health services, programs for violence survivors, aging and disability services, and more.
For these agencies, providing quality services hinges on maintaining detailed records of each client interaction, or case, they encounter. These case records contain important information that describes individual clients and their history with the agency by noting factors like assessments, observations, treatment information, and outcomes. Well-kept, accessible records help paint a full picture of each client’s unique needs and save time by preventing caseworkers from performing repetitive, unnecessary tests and evaluations on clients.
The best way to facilitate keeping an organized, accurate client database is to invest in a robust case management solution that coordinates all client data on one streamlined platform. But before your agency can choose its case management software, it’s important to understand what this software is and how it can benefit your agency. Let’s dive in.
What is case management software?
Case management software gives your agency one central location to house all client data, noting specific details like contact and billing information, history with your organization, appointment scheduling and tracking, and communication features.
Nonprofits often use donor management software to track key donor data, like a donor’s giving history and past interactions with the nonprofit. Case management software works similarly to strengthen your clients’ relationships with your agency by recording past interactions and their progress through the services and programs you offer.
Typically, this case management software has three functions for tracking client relationships:
- Intake: Case management software uses digital intake forms to quickly capture important data about new clients, automatically storing it in its database.
- Case management: Your agency has the tools it needs to make caseworkers’ workflows more manageable and meet client needs by recording detailed notes, promptly responding to requests for service, and flagging urgent issues.
- Reporting and evaluation: Your agency can identify larger trends and evaluate data at a glance to make improvements to the program and quantify its efficacy.
Through these features, case management software can help your agency become more effective and reach more clients by reducing or eliminating slowdowns.
Why do human services agencies need case management software?
A robust case management system guides your agency through the process of enhancing data so that you can more effectively manage your caseworkers’ workflows and provide positive client experiences.
Here are a few common pain points that a case management solution can help your agency overcome:
- Manual data entry. Entering each individual data point by hand is slow and inconvenient, taking away from the time your caseworkers could spend with clients. Using outdated data formats like spreadsheets not only makes data entry more complicated, but it also makes it difficult to find and reference specific client data.
- Using several platforms. For some agencies, a client’s profile information may be scattered across multiple platforms. This means that caseworkers often need to access several different programs before finding what they need, requiring more time and effort from busy caseworkers. For instance, staff at a mental health service may need to use separate programs for scheduling appointments and billing or switch between multiple spreadsheets to track down a client’s history or contact information.
- Lacking reporting capabilities. Accurate data reporting is important for tracking the agency’s successes, shortcomings, and case patterns. But, it’s challenging to create accurate reports when data is stored across multiple, outdated systems that could allow for duplicate entries or input errors.
Your agency might encounter other obstacles that are more specific to your field or the groups you serve. There are more specialized case management solutions available that address those specific challenges. For example, mental health services might choose software designed to suit these clients by placing a high priority on client privacy and mental health advocacy.
What should human services agencies look for in case management software?
While a program that provides disability services might need slightly different software features than a youth development program, there are a few basic attributes to look for in your case management software.
Ideally, case management software should offer:
- A modern approach. The software you choose should reduce or eliminate the need for spreadsheets and navigating between multiple programs. Instead, look for software that stores all necessary information on one simple, user-friendly platform. Not only will inputting and accessible data be easier for your caseworkers, but your staff can work with data with less training.
- Mobile capabilities. Your caseworkers may not always be seated at their desks or have access to their computers. But, they’ll still need to document essential client data. The software you choose should be mobile-friendly to allow caseworkers to take notes directly in the case management platform while in the field.
- Reporting features. Reporting features can allow your staff to visualize data, picking up on patterns in a client’s history or larger, agency-wide trends that might otherwise go unnoticed. Strong reporting features can also allow your agency to accurately measure the impact of your services in furthering your agency’s mission.
- Compliance features. Stringent privacy features protect your clients’ data, safeguarding your agency from risk and ensuring it remains legally compliant. These measures are particularly important for health programs and other agencies that receive sensitive information from clients as there is a large emphasis on keeping their data private.
One of the most important benefits of using case management software is the time that a more streamlined, up-to-date program can save your organization. By investing in a robust case management solution, you can give your caseworkers more time to spend working with their clients by reducing the number of tedious administrative tasks they have to perform.
Case management software can help your organization accomplish more without needing to hire more staff, increase funding, or expand existing programs. With the right platform, your human services agency can extend its services to more clients, helping broaden your impact and improving the lives of your beneficiaries.