5 Things Your Case Management System Should Do

You didn’t get into social services so you could do paperwork all day. You did it to get involved, make an impact and meaningfully address serious issues. We’re going to be publishing a series of articles about what your case management system should be able to do easily and accurately. Many systems tend to focus on forms and data collection but miss the overall purpose of having an automated system in the first place.

Your case management system should be able to help you do things with ease. One key difference with Seeladora is that we support the entire process — not just the intake and reporting forms. We know that the greatest time investments you make are in keeping up with changes to your cases and informing all the relevant people so everyone makes better long-term successful decisions — especially in collaborative case teams.

Over the next few weeks, this series will look in depth at five key areas your case management system should be able to support. Be sure to check back each week for the next article. Or bookmark this article. We’ll add links to each section to the relevant article for easier tracking.

Secure, Configurable Access to Relevant Case History

Let’s imagine that we work in the same social service agency. You handle short-term crisis relief cases and I handle long-term substance abuse recovery cases. What information should I be able to see in your cases that would be relevant to my case and vice versa?

In addition to the legal and regulatory compliance issues surrounding that question, we are likely gathering information from the client that can be relevant to both programs. Household demographics, income streams, job history and other information will be critical to providing the most appropriate care and resolution. In addition, I should be able to at least add notes to your case file to let you know about important developments in our client’s life that can help you do your job better. In paper case management systems, this would mean giving me access to a case file that contains information I don’t need to see or might be legally questionable to see.

A good case management system should be able to let us add notes and view demographic data securely without giving access to the entire case file. I should also be able to see, within legal limits and according to best practices, what other programs and services my client is involved with so that I can work with those other case managers or program administrators to stay on top of the changes and challenges in the life of my client.

Check out the full article here: https://www.seeladora.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-secure-case-management/

Historical Comparisons

We all know how amazingly tedious it is to search for historical information on clients in a paper-based case management system, or a system that roughly replicates paper systems. Every social service worker dreads the task.

To look back over earnings and income, you might have to pull out all the paystubs and make a list of job titles and income. For some cases, this may be a 10 – 15 minute effort, and even then you may not have all the relevant documentation right at hand. If you want to look at behavioral or financial assessments, you may have dozens of assessments to look over, depending on how long you’ve been working with your client. This means you will have a harder time tracking the exact progress your client is making to provide the best long-term solution.

A good case management system should be able to help you administer and record information easily and display the results in a snapshot or trendline format. That way, you can quickly look forward and try to understand what kinds of cyclical pressures your client may experience and head off issues before they get out of hand or surprise you. You should also be able to quickly look back and identify key progress indicators to celebrate successes with your client and in your agency. Replicating success depends on good data that is easily digestible.

Detailed Earnings & Income

For many social service programs, whether long-term or short-term, the need to stay on top of income and earnings is critical. If you are qualifying your client for financial or food assistance, the ability to track income and earnings is a key part of your decision to help. Most governmental programs only ask for snapshot information at the time of application or distribution, but having a long-term view of how your client earns their living, what kinds of pressures contribute to intermittent earning periods and how they recover earnings after a period of unemployment or disability can help you make even better decisions to reduce the need for long-term aid.

A good case management system should be able to track seasonal, commission-based and day-labor earnings. Things like pay periods, overtime options and associated fees like uniform costs are also incredibly important information to gather to help you identify what supplemental services or follow ups might be necessary to ensure the aid you give is the most effective.

Automated Reminders, Notices & Notes

As a case worker, how much time do you spend notifying your client about upcoming tasks and appointments? How much time do you spend writing long notes about mostly routine and repetitious events in the life of your client? For most case workers, it’s the bulk of the time spent in a case file – and then you have to make calls and send emails to let everyone know what you documented!

A good case management system should be able to send automated notifications to case teams and program managers when new documents are uploaded, new notes are added to a case file, or any demographic or case data is updated. In addition, your system should be able to send daily task and goal reminders to your client so you don’t have to spend the time on the phone trying to track them down and let them know what they should be doing. Finally, your system should be able to help you quickly select from a set of common notes such as “Left voicemail” or “Left application paperwork with client” so that you can quickly document mundane tasks and events and save precious time.

Outcome Tracking

Outcome tracking is the core focus of any good case management system. If you cannot track and report on outcomes, how else can you understand if your program is working and you are changing lives? How else can you understand how to improve your services?

Many times, we think of outcome tracking as a series of carefully crafted, follow-up surveys or assessments. While there is a lot of positive benefit to surveys, the effort to send them out, get them back and collate them effectively can be time-consuming. If the surveys aren’t crafted very well, the data can quickly become meaningless or frustrate comparisons – especially if the surveys consist of mostly open-ended, essay type questions. In addition, relying on clients to report on, or categorize, their outcomes depends on your client understanding the breadth of effort and the expected result of seeking help. Essentially, all you can be sure of with surveys is that the client is satisfied or not with what your agency provided — not whether your program was effective per its mandate or aid parameters.

Tracking goals, goal plans and goal completion is a key, effort-driven indicator of a program’s effectiveness. Task-based and time-bound goals can give you a much deeper insight into the difficulties and challenges of staying in a program and completing it successfully.

Identifying program levels that indicate performance minimums or behavior backslides can often give you a very quick overview of case notes and case worker impressions that are easily reportable. Program levels provide high-level progress indicators to spot macro-level problems early and adjust your program responses. They can also be used for quick comparisons between clients in the same program to determine whether your client is progressing at expected intervals or falling behind.

Being able to quickly compare what your client requested when they applied to your program and what you actually gave them in aid or services helps determine what your program may need to expand to cover or what new grants and donations you may need to seek to help even more people.

Finally, tracking the reasons why you denied someone service is critical to identifying the most frequent reasons for a program failure. Rejection or Denial Reasons such as “Out of Service Area” or “Too Much Income” can help you pinpoint program parameters that you can tweak to reach more or fewer people in your community to make your program more effective and money efficient.

Don’t Miss Out!

The next few articles in this series will address each of these key points in much more depth — with rich case scenarios and rich real-world data — so you can see how your case management system can help you do things you never thought possible with less effort and greater, repeatable success. Bookmark this page and check back soon!

Greg Strange

Hi! I'm Greg Strange the founder and president of Seeladora.  Since I was a little boy, I have been passionately involved in my community.  Now I'm able to take my 25+ years of software design and development and bring a truly collaborative and secure case management system to non-profit and social service agencies everywhere.