How Social Workers Can Finally Throw Away Their Binders
As a social worker, you strive to have a positive effect on the community around you. You serve as motivation to better the lifestyles for each of your clients. Because of the various demands put on social workers, the client relationship can become secondary due to the vast amount of service coordination, communication among providers, documentation and other aspects of this ever-changing field.
Fortunately, technology has managed to improve in ways that help take some of the burdens of social workers. Case management software systems are the best new tools in the age of technology. Software can be programmed to suit just about any kind of profession, and social workers are no exception. And with clients’ success on the line, having the proper tools is vital to achieving positive outcomes.
Due to these reasons, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) decided to come up with a set of standards for technology in social work practice.
Software in a Social Workers career
Here are some examples of how social workers use technology.
Taking and storing client notes
Instead of having to maintain a massive assortment of handwritten notes, social workers can use electronic systems for efficiently tracking and retaining data. Tools can range from utilizing simple spreadsheets and Word documents to case management software, which is optimal. Here are some examples of the type of software application platforms that social workers may utilize.
Electronic data management (EDM) services, electronic medical records (EMR), electronic health records (EHR) and case management platforms (CMP) that are connected through a massive digital warehouse of information used for managing patient care.
Web-based applications such as Google Sheets, which allow for collaboration on documents to easily be shared among peers.
Using live chat platforms to conduct counseling sessions with the help of Facetime or Skype makes meetings with clients easy and more efficient because they don’t require the social worker to travel.
Communication tools make the spread of information between caregivers and social service agencies simpler than ever before. Google Docs and Google Spreadsheet allow for multiple users from any location to gain access to documents, comment, and share information. Case management software such as NurseReferralPro and ACUITYnxt are designed to support the complete case management process with flexible workflow. These platforms allow social workers to build case records, alerts, customize forms, complete scheduled tasks, track activity history and more.
Other smart applications such as Trello, Basecamp, Slack and similar websites also help social workers remain organized and have included benefits of facilitating communication among groups of people who share information but not their current locations.
Using technology can also help the business operation and management side of things. Social workers’ managers monitor personnel, develop programs, work on the budgets and organizational finances, and communicate with other professional organizations, governmental entities, stakeholders, and employees with the help of software.
Pros and Cons
While all of this information showcases the advantages software provides social workers in their profession, there are some concerns to be aware of.
The security of data and information storages contain sensitive client information that can be vulnerable to hackers. One thing to keep in mind is that not all services and these include emails and cloud computing systems, are secure and reliable. A security breach could cause clients’ information and data to be violated or released, which could lead to legal and other ramifications.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed by Congress in 1996 and includes a section about protection and confidential handling of records by health care providers and organizations. Any social work agencies that breach client and/or patient data could be harshly penalized.
These are all concerns that have been started by the NASW documentation on technology standards; this is the case for the NASW to place forth a set of ethical standards by which social workers should do their best to abide.
Case management software
Case management software gives social workers the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of their programs, optimize the utilization of data, provide verifiable proof, and evidence of their work. However, it is important to ask if your agency is prepared to go from its usual binder and paper forms, and excel spreadsheets to a modern case management software?
What is case management software?
There are plenty of case management software programs available in today’s market. NurseReferralPro is one of the many software systems that help social workers keep their workload well-managed. This software is developed to increase the efficiency, effectiveness, and transparency of an organization's programs, service delivery workflows, and improve client management processes.
Because programs and services can vary from each organization, most case management software will be delivered with a generic, user-friendly structure. This generic structure can then be customized to work in concert with the organization’s own methods, procedures, and workflows. While case management software is incredibly customizable and can be developed to meet an organization's requirements, they are generally adopted for a variety of reasons.
- Streamlining client intake so staff members have more time to provide service delivery.
- Supervising client queues and reducing the chances for clients to slip through any cracks.
- Improving data entry and quality for all program data collection points
- Using data and analytics to improve program design, service delivery and program outcomes
- More informative with easily accessible reports that display vital operational information.
- Taking charge with addressing data quality, service delivery and operational issues before they manage to become a serious problem
- Using data to prove the value of your organization to investors
- Organizing data in a functional way and providing seamless access to data all over the organization.
How can it help you?
The process for case management involves a lot of information collection. Social workers usually work with many clients and gather information on hundreds of data points. It’s difficult to keep track of this kind of information without the proper help of a reliable software tool. Having all of your client information in a single place makes it simple to visualize the data, create reports, and leverage the information you gather.
Utilizing case management software makes collaboration more seamless between staff members. Anyone who is a part of a case will be allowed access to the information they require, communication regarding a client can usually be sent within the software and automatically attached to their case file. Some software systems allow social workers to send communications directly to their clients. Since these communications are sent from within the system, they’re automatically tracked, so you never have to stress about missing information.
Another benefit of using case management software is that client progress and other metrics can be seamlessly tracked and displayed utilizing various reports. This provides stakeholders with an overview of how the organization is performing and can help identify where and how operations can be done more efficiently.
Case management platforms
Recommendations for software platforms that work for social workers.
With a customizable and built-in reporting system that helps social workers ensure compliance users will be one step ahead in providing the best care for their clients. The team at NurseReferralPro made this software using their extensive experience in program compliance and reviewing audit findings. This has allowed them to develop a system that improves case management processes and automates your workflow. NurseReferralPro’s features allow social workers to:
● Care Plans
● Assessment Criteria
● Measure Effectiveness
● Monitor Billings
Penelope is a customizable, cloud-based care management software that's built for human service organizations who provide a variety of services in various locations. It handles everything from outcomes and treatment history, to service plans, notes, smart forms, alerts, workflows, signature capture, attachments, reminders, referrals, and scheduling are all available in a single package. It can also bring together every aspect of an organization’s operations into a comprehensive, and coherent system built from the ground up for coordination and help improve service delivery.
CiviCore Client and Case Management is capable of helping victims and child services organizations with their daily client and case management tasks. An organization will be able to streamline their administrative tasks such as data entry and access client’s data and information from a single centralized platform. There is an integrated activity tracking tool that helps users to keep track of attendance for activities and case notes allow interactions with clients to be logged to provide better customer service. Surveys and assessments can also be conducted to help run programs and gather client information. Volunteers will also be tracked and managed directly with the help of this system.
Plenty of organizations are still utilizing a combination of some basic software and paper to keep track of client information. This makes it difficult to remain fully organized. Other organizations work either with outdated or unsupported systems which provide them with only basic functionality and can prevent them from producing any reports or insights they may require. Integrating a comprehensive software platform will allow these organizations to improve the efficiency of their data, guaranteeing that all staff have access to useful and consistent client information.
If you are still unsure whether to upgrade or not, ask yourself if your current process, is helping you meet your goals. Making change can be a difficult decision, but worth it especially when the payoff is a software that is capable of improving the lives of both social workers and clients.