How to select web-based developmental disabilities software

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There are so many software products targeted for specific purposes in this industry, it’s hard to understand and keep track of what they all actually do. “If I go with one system, will I still need to use other systems in tandem?” “We bought this system to handle one function and we think it can do more, but we don’t know what it can and can’t do.” These are comments we hear from provider agencies that are wading through the massive amount of disconnected software products on the market. It is possible to have the services that you are providing now centralized and managed through an all in one web-based developmental disabilities software package, more commonly known as an agency management platform. By consolidating this information, you will be reducing duplicate keypunching, human errors and bad data. Connecting data and systems in a real-time platform will lead to reduced costs, easier maintenance and safeguards, as well as turn your agency into an industry leader integrating best practices and the latest technologies.

To make an informed decision about investing in a technology that will be your digital agency, you need to know what’s inside – what an agency management platform contains and doesn’t contain. It’s also important the workflows and reporting inside of the software package fit your needs and that there’s flexibility in the system to accomodate your agency. Let’s face it, no two agencies are exactly the same!! Let’s look at some of the selection criteria when choosing a web-based developmental disabilities software package:

  • Who is intended to use it? Ideally, in an all in one software package you want all of your employees to use it. It will connect all departments and employees and create efficiencies in every corner of your agency. You’ll be able to eliminate duplicate entry, read and review service notes faster if you’re field staff is also using the system. So with that being said, it must be user friendly. Your staff is not working at your agency to work with cutting edge technology, so chances are they are not the most knowledgeable in that area. When looking at software products, put yourself in the shoes of your staff – how many clicks does it take to fill out a service note? Can my staff do this after they’ve been trained? The user-friendliness of the agency management platform is a HUGE key.
  • Client Care Centric. Your business is helping others. Your software should be built around that fact! Look for software that’s centered around managing all aspects of the care or goal plan and the scheduling of services, locations and employees necessary to deliver the best quality care. Is it optimized for provider agencies that offer community or 1:1 services, employment services, day habilitation services, residential services and case management services? If it’s not obvious that it is, then chances are you could be buying a software product that’s not specifically geared to this industry and a lot of re-engineering costs could be incurred to get it to fit your agency’s needs.
  • Built in workflows and document tracking. One of the real benefits to an all- in- one agency management platform is having built in checks and balances in place. Does the software ensure compliance and proactive management of documentation at each step? Check the workflow steps from service notes to claims and where approvals and digital signatures are recorded. Ask to see what happens when a service note needs to be corrected – how does that note get sent back to the employee in the system?
  • Billing Claim Lifecycle Management. From pre-claim reports, to submitting claims to our list of over 800 payers, to rebilling, voiding, and reconciling claims; it can all be managed with a click of a button.
  • Living System Being web-based means that it should have ongoing updates. This is really important because this is how a software package stays fresh and continues to meet the needs of providers. If you’re paying a monthly subscription amount, updates should come standard. Check to make sure you don’t have to pay extra every time there’s an update.
  • Reporting Services A huge benefit to having an all-in-one system is the amount of data that you will begin to collect. It’s amazing the new and unique views you can see into your agency when you have the data. It’s important to understand how flexible the reporting functionality is inside of the agency management platform. Most often, they will include standard, or “canned” reports. But, they also give you the ability to create your own ad hoc reports so that you can slice and dice your data anyway you see fit. Reporting flexibility is a huge must!

So these are just a few areas to inquire and research on when looking for a web-based developmental disabilities software.

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