The FAMCare Blog

The Marriage of Technology and Social Work

Posted by George Ritacco on Jul 11, 2017 12:58:27 PM

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Today, social workers increasingly rely on digital tools. Online therapy, advocacy by social media, and earning an MSW degree online are just a few of the additional tech innovations that are evolving in social work. However, the social work profession reflects generational differences in acceptance of technology.

Global Vision Technologies’ mission is to help case workers leverage technology. FAMCare, our rapid case management software, has lightened the case load burden of social workers across the country by eliminating the need for complex filing systems, keeping all related case records in one place, customizing reports, and providing mobile access to all files.

By listening carefully to the needs expressed by social workers over the years, Global Vision Technologies has designed, what most case workers now consider to be, indispensable case management software.

An Uneasy Alliance

Today, social workers increasingly rely on digital tools. Online therapy, advocacy by social media, and earning an MSW degree online are just a few of the additional tech innovations that are evolving in social work. However, the social work profession reflects generational differences in acceptance of technology. “Traditionalists and baby boomers have not embraced technology in the same ways as the GenXers and Millennials, who are digital natives and depend on technology for their work and life interactions,” says Mary Jo Monaghan, MSW, LCSW, CEO of ASWB.

Baby boomers tend to believe that technology is a barrier to the direct client contact that has comprised most of their practice and has been their most valuable skill. They tend to consider technology an artifice that limits true interpersonal communication. However, as professionals across all disciplines are becoming more familiar with the advantages technology offers, they are likewise becoming more comfortable with learning new ways to solve old problems.

New Ways to Solve Old Problems

An article in Social Work Today reported how recent advances in HIV testing are a great example of how technology offers new ways to solve old problems. Today, many men who have sex with men were not even born when the AIDS epidemic officially began on June 5, 1981. Since they are not aware of how prevalent HIV still is among the homosexual population, they are no longer getting tested or going in for counseling. There are many psychosocial issues associated with visiting a clinic for testing, such as fear of discrimination, concern around the disclosure of one’s sexual identity, a lack of trust in the medical community, and desire to keep one’s testing private. Given that HIV testing and counseling are viewed as a critical entry point to engagement in HIV care, increased accessibility in this regard would undoubtedly have a positive impact on related health outcomes.

As a result, attention has turned to how modern web-based technologies can be leveraged in a targeted way to support HIV prevention efforts and better serve the populations most at risk. Researchers from the University of Connecticut have conducted a study where participants received web-based HIV counseling with a peer counselor via video chat, and they completed at-home HIV testing using test kits sent by mail. The results have been overwhelmingly positive. Renee Garett, LCSW, said, “There’s definitely room for this…Going into a clinic for testing can be a very stigmatizing experience for people. This type of home-based approach makes getting tested much less intimidating.” Garett believes that people’s comfort with online social networking sites provides a great opportunity for outreach to target populations. “Many people don’t feel comfortable seeking out information in traditional ways,” she says, “whereas social media is part of their routine.”

Handle with Care

Even reluctant social work traditionalists recognize that cell phones and iPads connecting to social networks like Snapchat and Instagram can be used as part of effective intervention strategies. Ever cautious, however, they remind us that while technology brings a number of benefits, care must be taken when integrating these tools into social work practice to ensure that the technology used is HIPAA compliant. 

With great power comes great responsibility.

Topics: FAMCare

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