Practical Applications of Case Management Software for Practitioners in Health and Human Services

Practical Applications of Case Management Software for Practitioners in Health and Human Services

Lesley Cooper (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada), Dana Fox (Athena Software, Canada) and Diane Stanley-Horn (Athena Software, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-735-5.ch011
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Abstract

This chapter aims to demonstrate the capabilities and practical applications of a case management software system for not-for-profit organizations. Whilst a variety of software systems are available, for the purposes of this chapter the authors will use/refer to “Penelope,” a system designed by Athena, a Kitchener, Ontario software company. Penelope is a sophisticated piece of technology that can collect and analyze information on clients, services, human resources and outcomes. Although a wide range of data can be collected using this software, it cannot make decisions about what to record or how to scrutinize the data. The “what to record” and the “how to analyze and interpret” are management and clinical decisions. Effective use of case management software requires technical, management and analytical skills combined with leadership and imagination. Case management software systems and the information they provide are only as good as the planning and organizational systems in which they are used. The best starting point for practitioners and managers seeking answers to questions about their clients, services, community and policy, and to maximize the capabilities of case management software systems is the development and application of a program logic model unique to the agency in question. A program logic model focuses on the services and programs provided by the agency describing its’ inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes. Understanding how to develop and apply their model allows practitioners and managers to perform tasks such as performance monitoring, experimental and quasi experimental approaches program evaluations, and client satisfaction and outcome studies to demonstrate the effectiveness of their services to funding bodies, consumer groups, and their boards of directors whilst also providing a tool that can be used to enhance agency performance.
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‘To err is human but to really foul things up requires a computer’. -- Farmers’ Almanac for 1978 ‘Capsules of Wisdom’ in Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (2004, p.670:70).

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Accountability Requirements

The not-for-profit sector faces particular challenges from funding bodies which are increasingly requiring greater accountability. This accountability has two components traditional financial accountability and, increasingly, measurement of outcomes. There are rising expectations that services will be targeted at those most in need. These expectations are held by funding bodies including government and community foundations. Quite simply, funding bodies want a return on their investments. To meet these requirements organizations need access to sophisticated information systems that allow ease of data collection and the statistical and analytical capacity to use these systems to best advantage.

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