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Top HMIS Features That Will Improve Your Coordinated Entry System

September 20, 2022

Communities that receive funding from The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are required to have a coordinated entry system in place. Coordinated entry systems transform a Continuum of Care from a collection of homeless assistance programs into an aligned strategy for crisis response and care coordination.

When multiple nonprofit organizations and government agencies in a community collaborate and pool resources together, they can better deliver homeless assistance programs and strengthen preventative efforts.

Coordinated entry systems are typically supported by Homeless Management Information Services (HMIS) technology, enabling continuums of care to securely share client data, manage referral networks, collaborate on interventions, and responsibly allocate limited resources.

What is a Coordinated Entry System?

Coordinated entry systems provide an organized, supportive network for people experiencing homelessness to ensure that resources are equitably distributed to all who need them. A community’s coordinated entry system helps match vulnerable households in need with appropriate interventions while fairly prioritizing the use of scarce resources based on urgency. 

Clients can greatly benefit from coordinated entry systems. A centralized coordinated entry system means clients aren’t required to make as many calls or in-person visits to receive support, and they won’t need to repeat their stories and undergo assessments multiple times. 

Communities may adopt different styles of coordinated entry systems. Some communities establish a “no wrong door” approach to performing intakes, assessments, and referrals. With this approach, vulnerable populations can access supportive care via street outreach teams, day shelters, food pantries, and emergency shelter providers. Other communities have invested in a centralized office or homelessness crisis hotline that people experiencing homelessness can reliably access. 

Regardless of the details, in a community with a high-performing coordinated entry system, the infrastructure must support making quick referrals to the most appropriate service provider.

How Homeless Management Information Services (HMIS) Support Coordinated Entry Systems

Coordinated entry systems are supported by homeless management information services (HMIS). HMIS software is a localized system required for all entities receiving HUD funding. With HMIS,  providers across a continuum of care can collect and organize client-level data to evaluate the status of people experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity.

HMIS technology supports coordinated entry systems through a wide variety of special features, including:

  • Secure client intake forms and data management
  • Point-in-time vulnerability assessments
  • Customizable screening forms
  • Resource allocation
  • Reporting

Continuums of care that share an HMIS to provide a coordinated entry system can streamline service delivery for clients and make it easier to access services. Clients go through intake once and their data is securely shared across the continuum of care.

HMIS Paired with Case Management Software Can Streamline Your Coordinated Entry System

HMIS compliance is a must – but to truly optimize your coordinated entry system, additional case management features are a must. With the right software, you can do more than just capture information. You can address the needs of your clients holistically, coordinating services across a continuum of care. Go beyond just HMIS compliance with these essential features: 

Supercharge your efforts to support the homeless community by considering these top case management features:

  1. Compliance: HUD provides a comprehensive HMIS Data Standards guide that outlines proper HMIS features and implementation. In particular, the HEARTH Act mandates that HMIS software should be properly secured, prevent data duplication and inaccuracies, and meet other technical criteria. Security in a continuum of care is paramount. Organizations supporting vulnerable populations gather, store, and securely share enormous amounts of confidential client information.
  2. Secure and Customizable Forms: Different organizations within a continuum of care may need specialized intake forms and vulnerability assessments. Any effective HMIS will offer flexible templates that enable organizations to tailor forms to their specific needs, while also sharing standardized templates for the coordinated entry system.
  3. Program Eligibility Matching: These data sets help staff across the continuum of care partners assess individuals and point them to appropriate, available resources, services, and referrals in real time. Some HMIS software providers, including CaseWorthy, provide an embedded referral network and communication hub, allowing staff to swiftly connect clients to services that are both within, and outside of, the coordinated entry system.
  4. Bed Management System: Staff can quickly review where shelter beds are available across an entire locale in the continuum of care, helping clients quickly access reliable shelter. This feature also allows managers to assess resource allocation and availability at a macro-level to inform annual budget requests and grant proposals, and improve overall communication among stakeholders.
  5. User-Focused Dashboards: Not all HMIS users need access to the same data and reporting features. A good HMIS solution will provide different dashboards based on a staff member’s specific workflow needs and permissions to ensure security and privacy.
  6. ID Badge and Barcode Scanners: ID generators and scanners allow staff to quickly identify clients and provide better access to care. 
  7. Reporting: Robust reporting features in HMIS-compliant case management software allows users to analyze short-term and long-term outcomes based on a variety of variables, including demographic data, entry point, services provided, and more. Some HMIS providers, like CaseWorthy, provide visually engaging, custom reports that support requests for government funding, grant applications, and donor outreach with a few clicks.

Overall, HMIS software should make managing coordinated entry systems easier by providing tools that each organization in a continuum of care can benefit from.

 

CaseWorthy’s case management software offers all of the above HMIS special features – and more!

CaseWorthy supports complex case management by tracking individual clients and the services they receive through a continuum of care. With CaseWorthy, you can go beyond just processing data. You can facilitate care for your clients and every interaction can be logged and tracked so you can continue to refine your programs. 

Here are just a few of the features we offer that make it easy to coordinate homeless assistance services and support coordinated entry systems:

  • Easy-to-use entry system, fitted with templated intakes that can be tailored to your organization’s initiatives.
  • Powerful referral workflows so you can coordinate with local governments, health services providers, and other nonprofits to better serve your clients.
  • Cloud-based software makes it easy for service providers and even clients to access the platform on any device with internet access.