6 Reasons to Make Your Social Work Intake Forms Digital

When someone realizes they need help from health and human services agencies, it’s important to make them feel welcome, safe, and supported. For social workers, the initial intake process can set the tone for the entire relationship between a client and their case manager — and the client’s feelings about the organization as a whole.

Social workers are turning to digital tools now more than ever to streamline workflows, improve processes, and make themselves more accessible to current and prospective clients. The digitization of intake processes is growing in popularity thanks to its many benefits for case managers, human services organizations, and — most importantly — the clients themselves.

Below we’ll break down six reasons your organization should ditch the pen and paperwork and begin conducting client intakes digitally.

6 Reasons to Make Your Social Work Intake Forms Digital

What Are Social Work Intake Forms?

Social work intake forms are documents or electronic forms used by social workers to collect relevant information from clients during the initial assessment or intake process. These forms serve as a means of gathering essential details about the client’s personal, social, and medical background, as well as their presenting issues, needs, and goals.

Intake forms often include basic contact information, demographic data, questionnaires, assessment forms, consent forms, and more. Case workers collect as much personal information as they can to gain a holistic understanding of their clients’ circumstances. This information is personal, and can at times be incredibly sensitive, especially when dealing with medical records, mental health issues, and situations involving children.

Intake forms typically cover a wide range of areas to provide a comprehensive understanding of the client’s circumstances. The specific content and structure of intake forms may vary depending on the social work setting, such as child welfare, mental health, substance abuse, or community services. Fortunately, flexible, customizable digital client intake forms make accommodating these differences easy.

Benefits of Digital Intake Forms

Initial intake forms and assessments are critical tools used to document a client’s needs. This documentation ensures that entire care teams, both internal and external, as well as the new client are all in agreement throughout the client’s journey. Once all the necessary information has been collected, these documents must be stored securely and frequently shared and updated by cooperative care teams.

Online forms provide a number of benefits throughout these processes, saving teams time, money, stress, and confusion. Some reasons to digitize your intake forms include:

Seamless upload to the cloud

By entering client information into a cloud-based digital system, social workers can skip the data collection and data processing steps of yesteryear. Unlike traditional paper intake forms, digital assessment forms are processed and linked to the new client’s profile instantly, without the need for manual data entry. In the future, any new or updated data will be automatically reflected on that client’s profile and in any reports created with their information. By storing clients’ data within a digital platform, social workers can employ any number of digital integrations to supercharge the platform’s capabilities.

Better for the environment

Despite the large quantity of client data collected via social worker intake forms, these forms have traditionally consisted of a stack of printable paper templates and worksheets. With the right digital case management system, answers that were previously written down on information forms and intake assessments can now be entered directly into fillable online forms. These answers are fed from a computer or smartphone screen directly into the organization’s secure database, saving social workers thousands of dollars in paper and printing services each year.

Secure sharing and referrals

Client confidentiality and data security are paramount in any social work practice. By digitizing the intake process, social workers can implement secure electronic systems with restricted access, encryption, and data backup protocols. Digital platforms offer features like user authentication, role-based permissions, and compliance with a number of federal data regulations, ensuring that sensitive client information remains confidential and protected from unauthorized access.

Accessibility and flexibility

Digital intake forms allow for greater accessibility and flexibility in the client intake process. Electronic forms can be accessed remotely from various devices, allowing clients to complete them whenever and wherever they feel comfortable and safe, reducing barriers to access for individuals who may face transportation or mobility challenges. Additionally, digital records can be easily shared and transferred between professionals, enabling better collaboration and coordinated care across support networks.

More efficient workflows and automation

Digitizing the client intake process allows social workers to automate repetitive tasks, reducing the time spent on administrative work and enabling them to focus more on providing direct services to clients. Reports can be generated with the click of a mouse, making grant writing and annual and quarterly reporting a breeze.

Simplified reporting and analytics

Digitized client intake processes consolidate data discovery and data entry, so client data is available immediately for research, evaluation, and reporting purposes. Software can generate reports and analytics that provide valuable insights into client demographics, needs, and outcomes. This data-driven approach can support evidence-based practice, resource allocation, and program evaluation, ultimately improving the effectiveness of social work organizations and their interventions.

What Information to Include in Your Intake Form

The information you collect during the client intake process depends on what type of social work you do. However, turning vast pools of both quantitative and qualitative data into clean and organized digital data is easier than you might think.

Because social workers deal with complex individuals with incredibly diverse circumstances, challenges, and goals, it’s important to collect information relevant to your organization’s work in addition to information about these individuals’ pasts and lifestyles. The challenges they face in one area of their lives might be the cause or an effect of another, so tracking data about every aspect of their lifestyles can inform decision-making processes throughout their care.

When you build your preferred client intake forms, consider which of the following data points might benefit your organization and your clients:

Contact information: Name, phone number, email address, current address, permanent address, emergency contact

Demographic information: Date of birth, gender, ethnicity, home country/region, native language, relationship or marital status, sexual orientation, highest level of education completed, employment status, income

Employment history: Current employer, industry, job title, income, past employers, highest level of education completed

Financial assets and expenses: Income, debt, rent, housing situation, utility costs, childcare costs, food and grocery expenses, vehicles owned, cost of car insurance, cost of health insurance, financial assistance awarded, financial assistance required

Medical history: Current diagnoses, past diagnoses, past and current medications, behavioral health issues, treatment plans, Medicaid or Medicare eligibility, health insurance costs, health insurance benefits, primary care provider contact information, specialists seen

Integrating client intake data with online tools and systems can help social workers visualize population trends, or connect their clients with the specialists and resources they need. Cloud-based case management software makes it easy to parse complex data networks and produce beautiful, easy-to-understand data visualizations to help clients and care teams understand where they’ve started, where they’re headed, and the steps they need to take in their journey.

CaseWorthyDigitize Client Intake with CaseWorthy

With CaseWorthy, you can easily digitize your client intake processes and house all your data in one place. By consolidating client data in a secure case management system, you can do more and make more connections while protecting sensitive information with HIPAA-compliant security measures.

Save your team from tedious data entry by collecting and entering data all at once, from any smartphone, tablet, or computer, with our online forms — and print forms out for those with barriers to technology as needed. Worried about CaseWorthy’s ability to cater to your unique specialty? Build your own templates for any situation and instantly share them with the entire team.

All of this data is easy to utilize, especially when analyzed through our built-in Power BI reporting platform. You can easily create reports based on an individual’s data to share with their care team, or produce program- or organization-wide reports to analyze progress, impact, financials, and more.

If you’re ready to maximize the efficiency of your program, contact our in-house case management experts today. We’d love to show you what we can do.

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