Patrick Shaw

Patrick Shaw
Human Services Practice Manager

Homelessness is a pervasive problem, and it hits U.S. families hard. Our client Community Housing Partnership (CHP) helps San Francisco families and individuals break the cycle of homelessness, housing nearly 200 families in the city’s Tenderloin and Treasure Island neighborhoods. During the recent Homelessness Awareness Month, CHP reported that the percentage of families in the homeless population had grown from 1% in 1980 to an estimated 37% in 2014, with 1 in every 30 children in the US experiencing homelessness in 2013.

CHP has a strong results orientation and continually finds new ways to deepen impact on the 1,500 clients they serve annually. The services they provide include high-quality supportive housing and comprehensive programs like employment and health.

Data from their case management activities is crucial to driving results. Recently, CHP evaluated how they could strengthen the foundations of their case management, increase organizational capacity, and further refine how they serve families and individuals with the aid of a new system.

CHP originally used a legacy system with paper-based documentation for all client encounters. “Our data entry clerk hand-entered over 700 forms each week,” noted Jamie Schecter, Evaluation Analyst at CHP. The data did not make it back to case managers in the field, so they were not able to leverage it to inform their work and tailor client interventions. The system also proved challenging for data analysis.

Choosing a New Case Management System

CHP made a list of key needs for their new system. It had to be:

  • Cloud-based, to allow access by case managers and other staff at all of their sites
  • Human-services case management focused
  • User-friendly to allow for a wide variety of technical skills
  • Flexible for their multiple programs
  • Transparent to allow them to better understand their reporting.

After evaluating several options, CHP chose Exponent Case Management. Our team at Exponent Partners developed Exponent Case Management by leveraging 10+ years of experience building case management solutions for human services agencies. In our work, we recognized that human services organizations had specific needs which weren’t being met by the outdated legacy technology available to them. A modern, user-friendly Exponent Case Management system allows agencies like CHP to move beyond just tracking compliance data to managing long-term results for clients across numerous and varied programs in the same system.

After selecting Exponent Case Management, CHP knew it was important to follow a deliberate implementation process. Case management systems are core to the day-to-day and overall mission success of agencies, so preparing effectively for a new system was crucial. In partnering with our clients over the years, we’ve also learned what agencies can do to be most successful with a new system. Together we developed a set of best practices to help organizations when they make the leap to a new case management system.

Getting Started with a New Case Management System

The following practices can help ensure a smooth implementation project and a successful system:

  • Map Process Flows. This is a critical starting place. How do your clients enter your program? From there, what is your enrollment process to case closure? Understand your processes and program model, and be able to articulate how you’d like to see them work in a system.
  • Leverage Existing Human Services Core Practices. Your agency is unique. However, there are trends and commonalities across agency case management, like screening and intake. Make sure to select a case management tool, like Exponent Case Management, that incorporates these core practices, while allowing you to maintain flexibility. Don’t reinvent the wheel where possible.
  • Tailor your System. Where does your agency diverge from the standard? Is it your program model, certain processes or services? Choose a customizable platform like Exponent Case Management, which allows you space to modify your system based on differing needs.
  • Make it User-Friendly. Make sure your system’s user interface (UI) is supportive of the most basic user. It should be simple, straight-forward, and uncluttered. Exponent Case Management offers the option to remove extraneous objects and shift locations to be more intuitive, and Exponent Case Management has been designed with years of case management best practices. Your UI should streamline case manager work, not hinder or burden them.
  • Plan your Launch and Adoption. System launches and adoption by your staff require careful forethought. Among the key steps that CHP took were an assessment of staff technology skills, staff training over time, the enlisting of power users, multiple types of user feedback collection, and a pilot of their system at a few sites before a full rollout.

From its new system, CHP is seeing an increase in focus from its case managers on the work that truly matters, helping them move the needle on impact. “They can easily record a service or start a service plan,” says Schechter. “There’s a condensed intake process. Case managers can focus more on the relationship and less on data gathering.”

If you are interested in moving to a modern case management system, contact us for a free consultation to discuss Exponent Case Management.

Image courtesy of Community Housing Partnership.