Your organization is designed to help people—and that’s what you do. But what if everyday hiccups that you overlook start adding up to the point where they begin preventing you from doing the thing that makes your organization great? Let’s look at a (very) general and hypothetical “day in the life” of someone like a child welfare worker and how introducing a mobile/digital program can improve the work they do and the life of their clients.
Day in the Life #1 - Before Introducing Mobile Technology:
8:00am—The case worker is on their way to visit a client but their supervisor may not know the details of this visit.
8:30am—Before the visit, the worker is unsure of the case history of this client because of a lack of documentation and miscommunication between case workers.
9:00am—During the visit, the worker listens carefully and takes notes by hand quickly.
10:00am—The worker provides the client with a hard copy list of support contacts they can reach out to after the visit.
10:30am—The worker has to head back to the office to communicate the information from the visit, some of which will inevitably get lost in translation, before heading out to see another client.
Day in the Life #2 - After Introducing Mobile Technology:
8:00am—The case worker is on their way to visit a client when they realize their supervisor may not know the details of this visit. No problem, the case worker looks up the contact information of their supervisor, knowing that it is up to date in their CRM.
8:30am—Before their visit the worker brings up the history of the family, reviews the intake allegations, and the system provides suggestions on what to be looking for based on the allegations.
9:00am—During the appointment the worker records the visit with agreement from the client, and their supervisor listens in.
10:00am—They provide the client with a digital list of support contacts that they can email or text after the visit.
10:30am—Notes are recorded and transcribed on the worker's mobile device from their car.
10:30am—Placement providers can be reviewed online and, based on the allegations, suggestions are provided.
10:30am—Their supervisor is alerted that a contact was made and the worker reviews the notes and experience while still on the road.
10:30am—The worker heads out on their next visit, confident in what they are doing for clients without having to return to the office to ensure the information is recorded correctly.
Ok, this may not have depicted an entirely accurate day in the life of a child welfare worker, but there are real problems that were mentioned. Issues such as case management, mobile communication, document storage and data capture, and remote data access are things that case workers face every day and prevent them from doing the best job possible. In the above example you saw how those problems were solved with online access to case histories, better communication with supervisors and families of clients, recording and improved note-taking during visits, and always having access to human service systems. These speed bumps may seem small, and perhaps your organization has learned to work around them, but if you consider the extent to which mobile technology can improve your processes, it’s clear how much more effective your organization can be.
The impact of mobile/digital technologies and mindsets for human service organizations goes beyond the case worker themselves. It reaches clients and stakeholders as well. For clients, it means online Portal access to case plans and other communication, along with the ability to contribute to their own progress. For stakeholders, it means gaining access to up-to-date case information, the ability to contribute to updates, and having the opportunity to share data and insight on a particular case.
The integration of mobile technology into the human services has received an overwhelming positive review thus far. After the initial roll out of devices, 92% of these devices are in use, with 66% of social workers feeling more efficient and 87% of supervisors feeling that their social workers are more effective. Statistics reveal that mobile devices are being used to solve the problems we talked about earlier! The tasks range from checking/sending emails (92%), recording case notes (87%), entering time and attendance (79%), and completing child abuse investigations (77%).
A day in the life of every case worker is going to be different, and it’s important to give them the tools they need to succeed in such a diverse and dynamic environment. By ensuring small errors and issues like the ones presented in this example are prevented, it can increase the time spent in the field and therefore deliver improved outcomes for the people that your organization serves.