AIDS software helps agency do more with less while improving service

‘Provide’ program really lives up to its name

(Editor’s note: This is the second part of a two-part special report on selecting case management software. In our June 1997 issue, we focused on selecting software that meets your present and future needs. This month, we highlight software designed to support specialty case management programs, including HIV/AIDS case management, long-term care, and workers’ compensation.)

When you have 100 or more active cases on your desk demanding attention, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start your day. Now, Milwaukee AIDS Project (MAP) case manager P. Douglas Canady, BS, starts his day by reading a daily agenda created for him — and sent to him via e-mail — by an innovative case management program called Provide.

"When I come into the office in the morning, I hit my e-mail and a schedule prints out. It lists all the things I have to do to serve my clients. The list includes notices for things like when it is time to do a reassessment, update a service plan, contact a client, or follow up on a referral," he says.

With dozens of active AIDS cases on his desk at any time, Canady says he used to start each month working down his client list in alphabetical order. "I might start with the A’s and not get back to the A’s before the end of the month. Now, I can monitor all my clients on a continuing basis. It’s very efficient, and it saves me lots of time. It also allows me to do more for each client."

One feature that has made it possible for Canady and other MAP case managers to obtain more services for their clients is Provide’s automatic referral feature. "Case managers can enter a client’s profile into the system and Provide will scan more than 250 available assistance programs and list in a matter of seconds which programs a client qualifies for," explains Bret F. Ballinger, president of Groupware Technologies in Wauwatosa, WI, developers of Provide. But Provide not only informs case managers which programs their clients qualify for; it makes the referrals, as well. "Case managers can ask Provide to make the referral and automatically the correct letter, or form, or whatever information the program requires will be sent out."

"I admit I wasn’t very computer-literate when we first got Provide," says Canady. "But the program has saved me a lot of work. It’s freeing up my time so that I have more energy to spend on my clients. In the past, if I had a client who needed a new housing situation, I was always able to help but it might have taken me a week to track down a facility with an opening. Now I can find one in an hour and make the referral at the same time."

System limits user access

Even within MAP, service coordination between departments is more efficient. "If I have a client who needs estate planning, instead of walking down the hall and hoping to catch one of the lawyers, I can e-mail them a note with the necessary client information."

Even though interdepartmental communication is streamlined, the system is designed to protect client confidentiality — even between other MAP departments, Canady adds. "Only case managers have access to a client’s entire file. Other departments can only enter areas that are pertinent to them. For example, the legal department can only see the legal screens, not the health information screens. Nurses can only enter and make notes on the medical screens. They never see the complete client profile, the problem logs, or the case manager’s progress notes."

Canady has no doubts that MAP provides better service to its clients since implementing the new software. "There are times when case managers are on call or covering for other case managers who are out of the office. In the past, if I was on duty and the client of another case manager called, I would have to go over to that case manager’s desk, hunt for the client’s file, and then try to read that case manager’s handwritten notes," he says.

"Now the file and all the notes are in the system. Whether the client’s case manager is in the office or not, we can get the client the necessary services. That’s a timesaver. It makes us all more efficient."

Software enables multitasking

Provide also allows case managers to open multiple files. "If I’m finishing a client profile and another client calls who needs transportation for a doctor’s appointment, I can stop working on the first profile, access the profile of the client on the phone, get him his bus tickets, close that screen, and continue working where I left off. I can open as many as four screens at one time," Canady says.

"I tell people that Provide is not just a software program; it’s an investment in the future of our clients. It’s not easy for a nonprofit agency to afford something like this, but the investment has more than paid for itself in time saved, decreased case manager burnout, and additional services provided to clients," Canady says.