The power of “a really rich client file”: Halton’s Reach Out Centre for Kids delivers more and better mental health care with CaseWORKS
Halton Region’s Reach Out Centre for Kids (“ROCK”) is a busy, growing, vital centre that is dedicated to promoting and achieving optimal mental health in kids and families. The agency has a total of 12 locations in Burlington, Oakville, and Milton, and it offers a wide array of clinical mental health services, as well as prevention and non-therapeutic programs. In August of 2014, as a part of the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (MCYS) “Moving on Mental Health”, ROCK was designated as the lead agency for child and youth mental health for the Region of Halton.
In 2012, ROCK made the decision to look for a new information system to support their many programs, clients, and locations. According to Merideth van Oene, ROCK’s Senior Manager of Informatics and Technology, and Amy Marshall, Supervisor of Intake and CaseWORKS Admin, their own internally-developed system was no longer meeting their information needs. “Basically, we needed a new system that would help us do our jobs better,” Ms. van Oene explained. “We wanted a way to centralize everyone’s scheduling, and better ways to collect client information, track their progress through multiple programs, pull accurate statistics, and generate all the reports required by our various funders.”
ROCK also needed their solution to be web-based, so that users could securely access the database using simple browser software (like Safari, Internet Explorer, or Chrome) from any type of hardware device (either PC or Mac).
In their search for a better information system, ROCK’s selection committee took a close look at a handful of shortlisted candidates, and eventually selected Coyote CaseWORKS, which they had heard of from another children’s mental health agency, as the system that would best meet their diverse needs. In addition to all of the features of the CaseWORKS software system itself, part of what convinced ROCK that this was the best choice for them was the expertise and approach of the Coyote Software Corporation: both their knowledge of the community health care sector, and their ability to work with ROCK on all aspects of the implementation process.
As Ms. van Oene put it, “It was a very collaborative process between ROCK and Coyote. They had a lot of advice for us, and we relied on their knowledge, of course of their own application, but also of their previous implementations. That’s why it was so successful for us – because it was truly a partnership.
“We went through a lengthy process of analysis first. We’re a large enough agency with different programs and different workflows, so we worked closely with Coyote and the implementation team to work out exactly what those programs and workflows would look like in the CaseWORKS system. And the conversion of all of the data from our old system was also part of that implementation process.”
Another feature of CaseWORKS that made it easy for ROCK to implement it was the “OS-agnostic” nature of its browser-based system, which allows all of the computers in their Mac environment to access the system without a hitch.
Asked how her agency has changed since they started using CaseWORKS in 2013, Ms. van Oene replied that the system has improved their operations in many ways. “The software had to be able to support our business processes. That was one of our main deliverables, and it’s done really well.”
Some of the benefits that she pointed to include:
A comprehensive clinical record
“From a clinical workflow perspective, we now have a much richer electronic client file, which is really beneficial to our clients as they move from service to service within our agency.
“CaseWORKS does give you a really rich client file. We also now have the capacity for centralized scheduling, which decreases the administrative time required of our clinicians. And we have many new opportunities for data collection, analysis, and reporting.”
Easy data collection
“We’ve come so far now with CaseWORKS, which gives you a really comprehensive e-file for clients, and lets you collect all of the data that you want. It will let us eventually go completely paperless. The ease of our data collection lets us get a sense of what it costs to provide our services to clients, and lets us keep track of all the data elements that we need to report to our funders as well.”
Easy data retrieval
“The biggest benefit for our clients is the accessibility of their information to and from our multidisciplinary team. Everything that we want or need to know about a client is accessible and readily available to everyone who needs to be involved in their care. The clinicians have the ability to review everything that’s happened to their clients, and the clients don’t have to keep telling their stories over and over again as they transition from program to program or from clinician to clinician. Which is huge! Plus, if a client gets into a crisis situation, for the clinicians who are responding to those issues, the accessibility of the information is also huge.”
“It is a really big shift for us. Now, it’s easy for us to find the information we need. We’re able to be more responsive to the clients when they call and ask, ‘When’s my next appointment?’ Or if they tell us something in confidence, we can make sure it’s confidential in the system. And yes, for intake in a crisis, to be able to have that information in your hands right at the moment that they call you, is definitely significant for us.”
A rich set of built-in reports provide data to inform their decisions
“Right out of the box, CaseWORKS came with the rich set of reports that we’ve made available both to our clinical management team and our program managers, to help them use data to inform their decision-making. So they’re now starting to use data to make decisions, which is a huge value for our agency. From a program management perspective, it’s great because they are actually using data points. They’re starting to want to consume data to help them do their business, which is fantastic.”
A custom one-button report
“During the implementation process, the Ministry of Children and Youth Services (our main funder) came out with a whole set of new data requirements and statistics that we were required to capture. It was taking our Ministry reporting staff three full days to do the statistics and data reporting for that Ministry report. And that was per quarter! The single greatest piece of work that Coyote did for us at the time was to create a custom one-button report for that Ministry requirement.
“Now, that exact same report takes us less than an hour! We just run the Coyote report and we’re able to analyze and get what we need out of it very, very quickly. We get 12 days of our lives back! The value of that is tremendous for our agency.”
Ability to create other custom reports
“Coyote has developed a custom process for us to be able to design our own reports, and we love it. We are report-happy! (laughing) I think that’s where we find our bliss, when we’re able to make reports.”
Workflow automation and improvement
“Moving to CaseWORKS has been really transformational for us. We’re a sector that has not received an increase in our base funding for years, so every penny counts for us. And to be able to get the efficiencies in workflow and productivity that CaseWORKS gives us, that really translates into more clients seen, better value for dollar, all of those things that are really, really important for us. We have worked very hard to get the data from our new system into the hands of our agency’s decision-makers, and we’re really starting to see the benefits now.”
“All of our clinical case procedures are using the CaseWORKS calendar to do scheduling for our therapy and psychology programs. We do centralized scheduling now, meaning that our administrative team are the ones who are scheduling, rescheduling, and cancelling appointments for all of those staff members. That’s working very well so far.
“We had a consulting company come in and do a time study for us, and one of the findings of that study was that our clinical workers were spending a significant portion of their time doing administrative work, scheduling, rescheduling, and cancelling their own appointments. We have a lot of clients and families coming in, so there’s a lot of work wrapped up in that. So one of our requirements for our new system was that it needed to have the capability to transition this work to the administrative team, which CaseWORKS does, and that’s been a huge win for us.”
Easy management of groups
“It’s exceptionally helpful to be able to utilize the group management feature in CaseWORKS. We use it for some of our parenting programs, therapeutic groups, and educational groups. We can see the notes for those programs for each person, and it’s easy for the group leader to assign and track time spent in a group activity for each member of the group.”
Easy reporting to their funders
“In developing that one-button quarterly MCYS report for us, Coyote’s developers worked closely with us to identify the data elements that we needed to collect, and to determine how we could capture them in the software. Coyote already had pieces of the report in place, but it needed to be tweaked to match the Ministry’s new requirements. It was very collaborative, and the result was a huge time-saver for us. Prior to having that report in our system, we used to have to do a lot of the work manually, counting and validating all the data by hand. It was very challenging, very time-consuming, and if you made one little mistake along the way, you had to start all over again.”
One common system for all their locations
“CaseWORKS is web-based, which allows all of our staff members to share a common information system, regardless of their location. We are one system, and we can access it anywhere.”
Worry- and hassle-free hosting
“Part of what we purchased from Coyote was their hosting service, which means that they host our CaseWORKS system on their own secure, based-in-Canada servers, not ours. We had been hosting our previous system internally, and it was very cost-prohibitive. The infrastructure was failing, and we didn’t have a large IT team internally to look after it properly. So to get it off-site and to not have to worry about it – that’s extremely valuable to us. Being able to focus our limited resources on providing direct customer service instead of back-end operational support is immeasurable.”
A partnership relationship with Coyote
“Our relationship with Coyote is truly a collaboration. It’s not Customer-Vendor, it’s a partnership. They’re very invested in making us successful, and we’re invested in helping them make their products better. They’ve developed an extensive customer base in this sector, and they have that inherent knowledge of how the sector works, and what we need to succeed.
“And operationally, I think we’ve also had a really good experience with them. On a day-to-day basis, we’re confident that we can pick up the phone and they will be responsive to our needs. We’re very content with the services that they provide us.”
And an eye to the future
“The other thing about Coyote is that they’re at an interesting point in their software development cycle, and they’ve been very open with us about their development platform and where they’re going with their products in the future. That’s exciting for us because we see that they have a vision; they’re not just in a stasis mode, they’re constantly developing. For us, it’s great to see that they’re continually refining where their technology is moving to, and that they see enough to know where it needs to go. We’re very excited to continue on that journey with them.”
For more information:
Andrew Kirkham, Director of Business Development, Coyote Software Corp
Telephone: 905-639-8533 x301