Why Mobility Improves Human Service Outcomes
The simplicity, popularity, and capability of mobile devices make them the perfect tool for human service agencies to help improve outcomes. Smartphones and tablets in the hands of clients and agency fieldworkers are game changers.
So, it’s no surprise that the 2018 CompTIA Human Services IT Advisory Group. “HHS State of the States Survey” reported that 45% of agencies are using mobile as part of service delivery. Organizations staffed with just a handful to those with thousands of caseworkers are using the power of these devices to reach individuals and families in need.
The Pew Research Center notes that 77% of all U.S. adults own a smartphone. While that drops to 67% for those with annual incomes below $30,000, that still means even two out of every three adults on the lower end of the income scale have a smartphone. Ownership figures are mainly consistent along racial and gender lines.
Self-service, Communication, and Fieldwork
The value of a mobile device comes to life in the areas of self-service, communication, and fieldwork.
With smartphones, clients can interact with agency staff where and when they want. Clients can complete basic tasks themselves, instead of coming into an agency’s office, calling to obtain status, or having to mail in information. Client self-service also frees valuable staff time for higher value work.
And, agency fieldworkers can capture information into a system of record in a client’s home or other location from a phone or tablet. For example, no longer will they need to spend time deciphering hand-written notes and subsequently key that information into a legacy case management system back at the office.
Common tasks that lend themselves to client self-service via mobile include:
- Completing and submitting an application.
- Taking a picture of and uploading supporting documents, such as a pay stub, rent receipt, or utility bill.
- Completing training via video.
- Checking on the status of a case or application.
- Making a payment.
- Checking on the status of a payment.
- Communicating a change in circumstances and providing supporting information.
- Scheduling an appointment for an in-person meeting, when one is needed.
Text and video make it easy for staff and clients to interact. Common tasks that can use these mobile capabilities include:
- Appointment and deadline reminders.
- Status check-ins.
- Notifications, e.g., payment due, payment received, benefit paid, and application status changed.
- Conference sessions via FaceTime or similar application.
While the “HHS State of the States Survey” mentioned above indicates significant penetration of mobile for service delivery, it also highlights the need for more focus on mobile use by agency staff.
Mobile technologies continue to be a part of state agencies move to service delivery modernization. And not surprising is the fact that 82 percent of the mobile focus is aimed at the customer. Mobile access for HHS workers and providers is increasing but realized efficiencies in program administration remain to be seen.
Fieldwork is an area where the mobile usage by staff can pay immediate dividends. GPS, mapping, digital signature capture, camera, video, and mobile applications increase staff efficiency outside the office, allowing more time for staff to concentrate on engagement and outcomes.
Common fieldwork tasks that can use these mobile features include:
- Immediately accessing and updating client information.
- Directions for scheduled appointments, without having to re-key addresses.
- Location tracking to increase security.
- Staff check-ins and emergency alert notifications with full location information automatically provided with each communication.
- Pictures, voice notes, and video captured and added to a case.
- Assessments completed in real time in the field and associated to a case.
- Outcome, service, and similar plans completed, accepted, and signed in the field and associated to a case.
- Notes and case updates captured in the field and associated to a case.
Technology as Enabler, Not Barrier
The days of mobile being a new technology in an agency’s enterprise environment are over. With standards and published integration points, linking mobile into an existing legacy case management system is easier than ever. Plus, modern mobile solutions even function in offline mode when cell service and Wifi are not available, then synchronize changes once the device is back on the network.
Improved Outcomes, Less Stress for Staff, and More Efficient Operations
With all the capabilities and benefits, mobile is helping transform service delivery and field work. The benefits are seen through improved outcomes, less staff stress through a reduction in administrative tasks, and streamlined operations.
RedMane provides software solutions and systems integration services that address complex, real-world challenges in human services, health care, and the commercial sector. And we have significant experience with case management mobility. We are a problem-solving company. Technology is just one of our tools.
mCase is one example of our innovation –and it has world class mobile features that are easy to integrate into an existing environment. mCase is our flexible and powerful platform that easily supports any case management program involving intake, assessment, eligibility, service planning, financial processing, and/or ongoing service delivery. It works in the office and in the field, even without internet or cellular connectivity. And with its embedded analytics, you have insight to improve outcomes. To learn more about mCase, click here.