While working on an implementation at a customer site, I observed a caseworker in Michigan entering data into a SACWIS (State Automated Child Welfare Information System) computer system, then immediately enter the same data (plus some that SACWIS didn’t have) into the agency’s own system.
Then the caseworker entered appointment data from the same source into their online calendar, and then data from the caseworker was later transferred by someone else into an accounting system to track anticipated cash flow. There may have been even more duplicate work needed, but the caseworker I worked with wasn’t sure. Ridiculous? Absolutely! Common? Unfortunately I’ve heard this many times.
How do you alleviate this very burdensome, prone to entry error and also a time “vampire” for the caseworker? It’s not easy. But it’s necessary because caseworkers need to spend more time with their clients and this extra entry is devastating to morale.
One strategy is to implement a system that combines as much of this functionality as possible, so multiple systems aren’t needed. This is done via an enterprise case management system that also can handle scheduling and billing.
Another strategy is just to “connect” all the systems using technology to make sure they don’t have to repeat the same data entry. This is typically very complex and can also be prohibitively expensive.
But if a state or county system mandates entry, and if this system drives funding for your agency, you’re stuck with at least double data entry! Or are you?
A Powerful Answer Exists...
In Michigan, the agency we worked with installed an enterprise system that combined case management, billing and scheduling. Now - even though they had their own system installed - Michigan still required them to use the State's SACWIS system to record data. The piece that was missing and to solve the duplicate data entry problem... was some way to get data into both systems.
To solve the data transfer piece to SACWIS, we implemented a custom browser solution, and this is where the magic happens.
To the user, running a custom browser is just like running standard Internet Explorer. But in the background, a special program looks at the content of the screen and determines what type of data is currently being accessed or entered in the SACWIS system. With a push of a button, via a secured connection, the data on the screen is transferred to the local agency’s case management system. The SACWIS federal requirement is achieved in that it still is the system of initial “record”, and data transferred is simply the own agency’s data as typed by their caseworker. After the transfer, the caseworker can then complete the entry on their local system by adding in extra data that is not captured in SACWIS. It's a simple solution, and yet - very, very powerful. This process alone saves a caseworker hundreds of hours of productivity over the course of 6 months to a year.
This method can work on any browser based system, and a lot of states’ SACWIS systems, especially more recent ones, are browser-based. This is definitely a solution worth looking at, along with an internal enterprise case management system. The combination of the two is magical.
If you'd like more information on our custom browser solution (Vision Sync) - please grab a copy of our Visions SYNC client review.