Let's face it, we all need paper.
Without it, our kids would have nothing to scribble on except our recently repainted walls.
Without paper, our governments would have nothing on which to print all that sweet, sweet money.
What's that, they could just print it on some kind of cardboard, you say? Not so fast - cardboard is made out of paper!
Also, without that ingenious, age-old mix of pulp and fibres, no-one would be able to start a sentence with 'On paper...' ever again.
So it still has its uses. We won't dispute that.
Your organization, however, may no longer need all that paper you've been steadily accumulating over the years.
Intake forms, progress notes, insurance claim forms, worker schedules, the list goes on.
An integrated, flexible case management software application may be just the solution to help reduce the use of paper at your organization and ease the burden on those bulging filing cabinets currently threatening to take over your entire office, while also helping to increase your organization's efficiency at the same time!
So just what are some of these benefits? Well, we're glad you asked.
1. Improved Security
Protecting confidential client information is crucial, not only as a legal requirement but also as an indicator of the trustworthiness and competence of your organization.
When dealing exclusively in paper, it can be difficult to ensure that client files are being viewed only by those eyes who have the right to see it, not to mention protecting against the risk of data loss if a file is misplaced in the wrong cabinet or ends up in the recycling bin by mistake.
There are also insurance costs to consider in case of theft or fire, as well as the general stress of watching filing cabinets take over your offices and storage spaces or helplessly watching as paperwork literally piles up on your desk.
A web-based case management software solution can help ensure the security, integrity and accessibility of your clients' protected health information.
Monitoring accessibility of client files is essential to any electronic case management system, most of which will have security settings in place to limit users from viewing files they have no need to see.
Electronic date and time stamps can also allow supervisors to view the exact time a staff member created a file or edited an existing record.
If your data is being hosted in the cloud by your software provider, there's no need to worry about theft or fire affecting any client records, nor expensive upkeep of your own server. And you can cut down on filing cabinet costs as well!
Data loss should not be an issue either - most case management software can be configured to prevent accidental deletion of data and, with proper backup procedures in place, your electronic records will be protected even in the event of a natural disaster.
Having your staff create secure passwords is also a great way to ensure the integrity of your electronic system - check out our previous blog entry on password and data security here.
2. Sharing Information More Easily
In organizations where multiple staff members are providing service to the same client, the ability to easily share information is key.
For example, staff might need access to shared client files but may be frequently working in different locations - with paper, having multiple staff share files may mean creating photocopies or faxing files back and forth (increasing the risk that confidential information will end up being compromised).
Or it might just mean that staff are not able to access their client files until they're physically back at the office.
Care teams cannot provide efficient and effective care if they do not have access to information from other providers or cannot access client files when and where they need to.
Also, scattered physical files can cause potential duplication of data and / or slow communication of information, making coordination of service provision a challenge at best.
With a mobile case management software system, staff can access their clients' files in real-time from any location, whether they are at another office, on the road or working from home.
Even if your organization does not have multiple locations or staff members who provide service out in the community, the electronic file serves as the one authoritative record for a client, a file which can be accessed by multiple staff members at the same time if need be.
Consider it an organizational tool -- you know exactly where that file is at all times - it's easily accessible and not a collection of notes scattered around the offices of multiple providers.
3. Increased Speed and Reliability
As mentioned above, your staff need to be able to access client files at their own convenience.
Whether hosting software on your own server or having it stored 'in the cloud' by your software provider, secure access can be set up so that staff members can access the system safely and reliably whether they're in the office or working from home.
If the system is web-based, then staff should also be able to access their files on their smartphone or tablets when they're traveling or in the field.
Case management software can save staff time and increase efficiency - no more poking around in file cabinets for client files or waiting for a colleague to fax or deliver a paper file to the office.
Your staff can now spend more time working on client files and less time looking for them!
Accurate reporting is also a crucial element in any human services organization - tabulating data accurately can be a challenge when collating paper files, which leads us to ...
4. Improved Reporting Accuracy
Most likely, you are required to produce reports in order to secure grant funding or for internal statistics-gathering or marketing purposes.
Accurate reporting requires accurate data. Having a case management system that can gather that data for you in a timely manner (or allow you to export your data to a third-party application for custom reporting) can reassure your funders or supervisors that your data is accurate and consistent across all of your services and locations.
This may not be the case with paper, given the possibility of lost or duplicate data, not to mention the potential headaches involved with collecting your data on paper in the first place. A case management software application can make your data gathering processes more efficient and accurate.
Additionally, with paper, inaccurate or missing data may not get caught until you are aggregating the data for reports at a later date - this decreases your ability to correct errors and omissions before it's too late. With electronic systems, errors and omissions can often be prevented altogether or reviewed more easily on an ongoing basis.
Quality assurance is easier when your information is consistent.
Accurate statistics on services rendered and client outcomes can be critical to securing renewable or new funding opportunities.
5. Reduced Costs
Ultimately, like many things in life, it all comes down to cost.
Reducing your use of paper can help eliminate some obvious costs - for one, you'll see a marked reduction in your paper budget!
Also, if your organization is billing to third-party insurance companies, submitting electronic files can have a positive impact on your revenue flow by helping to reduce the number or rejected claims.
You are also likely to see a reduction in the time it takes to be reimbursed when submitting claims electronically.
Case management software can also help reduce some seemingly hidden or hard-to-quantify costs as well.
Reducing your reliance on paper can help limit the need for extra physical space to host paper files as well as reducing your need for insurance to protect against theft or fire damage.
Eliminating or fine-tuning inefficient processes can save time and money, while limiting lost or duplicate data.
Improving your ability to gather accurate reports can help increase your opportunities to attract funding.
Would you like to see an example of an integrated case management software application in action? Request a demo of Penelope today!