Collecting, protecting, and analyzing your organization’s data is more important today than ever before. How do you know you have the most effective data management? Four key qualities of effective data usage—security, privacy, reliability, and resiliency—are critical to determining the answer.
Why Data Management
Managing data has never been more important for health and human service organizations. By analyzing relevant data to your work, you can empirically evaluate which parts of your programs are successful and which need to be reassessed.
Want to know how many more people your shelter helped house this year compared to last?
Need to know the impact of each donation on meals offered to children at your food bank?
Recently implemented a new refugee resettlement initiative and want to see if it is having the quantitative impact you are hoping for?
Each of these questions can be answered through effective data management.
Data management is the process of—yes, you guessed it—managing your organization’s data. It encompasses everything from collection to analysis and involves principles like security and functionality. Typically, programs implement data management through a third-party provider (often called a case management platform).
While there are many providers on the market today, they are not all created equal. Knowing what makes a good (and bad) data management system is critical to providing effective social services.
Why Management Quality is Important
Have you ever heard the old adage, “quality over quantity”? It can apply to a variety of topics—and data management is no exception. When it comes to health and human service data, quality management is essential for creating meaningful reports, directing new initiatives, and protecting the safety of your clients.
Be wary of management systems that sacrifice quality for cheaper or more expansive alternatives. Many of these solutions are weak where it matters most. For example, they may not always be dependable. Can you access the system while in the field? Or must you keep a physical record while on the street and wait until you are back at the office to enter your data?
While this difference may seem negligible, in practice it can open the possibility for more errors. Accuracy—particularly when dealing with data—is something that should not be compromised. Doing so can lead to false reports, incorrect analysis, and ultimately ineffective service for those who need it most.
Four Aspects of Effective Data Management
Whether you are assessing your current data management system or considering potential options, there are certain aspects you will want to make sure you are gauging. Specifically, make sure to evaluate the management system and its:
These four areas are each a hallmark of quality data management. When you can successfully guarantee each of the above features, then your health and human service organization should feel confident in your data.
Security is the first quality of effective data management for a reason. If your data is not secure, then your entire operation is in jeopardy. Unsecure data can be hacked, modified, or even deleted. Each of these potential outcomes can spell disaster for a program.
Be sure to ask your data management provider what their efforts are towards data security. Do they have cybersecurity experts on their team? Is data properly encrypted and backed-up in case of network failure? Multi-layered security offers the best protection for case management, including in physical datacenters, infrastructures, and operations.
Chances are, if you work in social services then you already know the importance of data privacy. Health and human services organizations work daily with sensitive information (such as housing status, HIV diagnosis, food security levels, employment status, birth dates, family relationships, and even social security numbers). The United States has strict laws about protecting the privacy of such data.
Ensure that your data management system is in compliance with all external privacy standards, laws, and regulations. This includes laws like HIPAA, FERPA, GDPR, and HITRUST.
If your data system cannot guarantee the upholding of these privacy standards, then it is a red flag that the platform is sacrificing essential aspects of effective management.
While most data management platforms today will likely have standard security and privacy settings, reliability can vary greatly. Does your data management system often crash, load slowly, or process requests incorrectly? How reliable the system is reflects its value. There is no point having a data system that cannot execute the functions you need it to.
Look for systems that are hosted on dependable infrastructures. This should include physical elements like redundant power, networking, and cooling, as well as software elements such as safe deployment processes, impact-free maintenance, and failure prediction through machine learning.
The fourth characteristic of effective data management is resiliency. Even with state-of-the-art technology at our fingertips, accidents and disasters are bound to happen. The best case and data management systems are the ones with processes in place to fix problems as soon as they arise.
In the event of such a disaster, it is important that your data management platform can recover lost data and employs safeguards to keep data secure, private, and available. You should also ask how often backups for production resources occur. If they do not answer with “daily”, then you should be wary of their system’s resiliency.
Industry Leading Case Management
When it comes to data management, one thing is certain—you and your organization deserve the very best. Data systems that excel in security, privacy, reliability, and resiliency are those best suited for the rigorous and important work of health and human services.
Whether you are a homeless shelter, food bank, refugee resettlement agency, domestic abuse shelter, workforce development agency, low-income medical services provider, or any other social service organization, you can benefit from better data management.
ClientTrack™ is an industry-leading case management solution that meets all four aspects of effective data management. With best practices for data access, hosting, and security, ClientTrack can help elevate your organization and allow to focus on what you do best: serving those who need it most.
Reach out today for a demo or check out some of our testimonials on how ClientTrack has improved data management for programs like yours.