3 Types of Case Management Data to Track in Apricot Software
Social Solutions Apricot™ software is a powerful tool for collecting, managing, and analyzing data, but designing an effective case management database can be a delicate process. You want to make sure that you are capturing all of the data you need while keeping the data entry process streamlined and efficient. As you are designing your Apricot database, answering specific questions about your programs and services can help you capture the data you need without overwhelming data entry.
Who are we serving?
Apricot is a great tool for collecting information about each of your program’s participants and using that data to describe who you are serving.
As you are designing your database, start by thinking about your target population. Who are the people you’re hoping to reach with your services? The more detailed your response to this question, the better.
For example, simply saying that you want to serve youth is too general and nondescript. Saying you want to serve low-income, female youth between the ages to six and twelve is much more specific. In the second statement you can see the data elements you need to track in your Apricot database: income, gender, and age. As you design your database, consider adding these data points so you can define who your organization is serving.
Collecting demographic data on the clients you are serving answers the following questions:
- Are you reaching those you set out to serve?
- Are you reaching an unexpected population(s)?
- Is a particular subset of your target population accessing your services at higher rates than others?
Demographic data that tells you who you are serving is typically captured on a Tier 1 “Client Profile” form in Apricot software. Client Profile records include data that is, for the most part, static and not tracked across time.
What services are they receiving?
It’s not enough to know who you are serving; you also want to know how you are serving them.
The services you provide to clients might include outreach, meeting one-on-one, leading group events, special programs, workshops, mentoring, counseling, or referrals to community partners, among others.
Tracking services provided to clients produces useful metrics such as:
- How many services you provide (counts)
- The kinds of services you provide
- Average amount and type of services accessed by each client
- Amount of time and money spent on services
- Average length of time between services
- Case manager case load by services provided
Apricot software is specifically designed to track these kinds of case management services. Each Tier 1 Client Profile record can have numerous associated Tier 2 records. Tier 2 records track dynamic information about your clients over time, which is why Tier 2 records usually require a date field.
Create multiple Tier 2 records to track each service received by individual clients. The Tier 1-Tier 2 form structure enables reporting on service information across time for each individual client without re-entering static client data each time you log a service.
Why do our services matter?
Understanding the impact you are having on your clients and the community is essential.
Using data in Apricot software to show concrete outcomes will pinpoint what you are doing well and identify areas that need improvement. Outcome data can also be used as a simple yet meaningful way to communicate impact to both internal and external stakeholders.
Understanding the impact of your programs and services generally requires comparison. Outcomes can compare differences within a single client as a result of your services or compare a group of clients to external populations or standards.
As you design your Apricot database, consider the kinds of reports that you will need to demonstrate the impact of your services.
Here are four possible options to structure outcome reports based on comparisons:
1. Pre and post assessments
Assessments that occur at the beginning and end of a program are a common method of measuring impact. Assessments can be surveys, observations, or a skills and knowledge evaluation, based on your type of program. In Apricot, you can create a single Tier 2 assessment record that can be completed for clients before and after receiving services. In Apricot reporting, use comparisons and aliases with the first and last created assessment records to measure changes in assessment data over time (from one assessment to another).
2. Post-only assessments
Depending on how your program is structured, it may be difficult to gather meaningful data across time. It may make the most sense for your organization to gather outcome data at the end of the program only. These can be in the form of satisfaction surveys or asking clients to reflect on the changes they experienced as a result of your programs and services. A simple Tier 2 outcomes and exit form can be completed for each client and compiled in a single report.
3. Comparison groups
One useful way to gauge impact is through comparison groups. The groups may exist within your dataset, such as comparing how a group of clients who attended a training compare to those who did not attend. The group may also exist external to your programs, such as how your clients improve compared to the community as a whole. Use Tier 2 records to track clients’ progress and create reports that compare outcomes across different groups.
4. Comparison standards
You may also compare your impact to a preselected benchmark. For example, if your program seeks to have all youth in the program reading at a specific grade level, you can periodically test reading levels to measure progress toward that standard. In Apricot reports, you can measure progress toward standards with “Targetlines” in charts. Targetlines are a visual representation of benchmarks that quickly show a clients’ progress in relation to the standard.
Case management in Apricot software
Too often we encounter organizations using Apricot for collecting data but not using data. Answering the questions above will keep your organization focused on the true value of Apricot and how the data in Apricot can be leveraged to improve organizational performance.
When determining the data to include in your database, start by asking who, what, and why. Use these questions as a framework to guide your database build. Building a database that can answer these three essential questions will ensure that you are capturing the data you need while avoiding needless data entry. In the end, you will have a clean, information-rich database that can report on a clear picture of your program and services.