Spotlight on a User: What’s Your Data Quality Plan?

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Agencies all across the state are working with individuals and families to help them find safe, secure housing. It is a driving force behind the work that many HMIS users do. One such agency, Washington County Community Services (WCCS), provides homeless outreach throughout Washington County, emergency shelter support, and front door and telephonic support for housing and homeless resources. Like many agencies, they have a strategy for getting the work they do recorded in data that can help tell their story to funders.

Karen Brown, one of the staff at WCCS, has played a key role in that data entry process. She describes how her role has been changing, “In the past I was the only one entering information into HMIS.” Now the social workers have their own HMIS  licenses and Karen is more of a Lead HMIS person, double-checking the work of the social workers to make sure they are entering everything they should be and making sure it is entered correctly. She hasn’t left data entry behind just yet. “I am still entering half of the worker’s paperwork,” she adds.

ICA has been asked by different agencies if one data entry person or multiple data entry people is more beneficial. Karen describes the pros and cons of her situation:

  • PRO = If information is missing, I have to give the paperwork back to the workers and have them finish filling it out, but if they are entering their own they hopefully won’t miss any information.
  • PRO = Information will be entered sooner if our social workers are entering at the time of the interview.
  • CON = When staff enter their own paperwork, there won’t be anyone making sure all the questions are answered correctly.
  • CON = When staff enter data at the same time as the interview, it will take longer to interview and consequently fewer people are interviewed.
  • CON = With more time spent on entering data there will be less time for case management.

Karen used to enter the data on her own. Now WCCS has been transitioning to a new method for getting their data in HMIS. To keep on top of their data quality, they run monthly reports and those reports are double-checked to make sure that all workers are completing outreach, enrollments, and exits for all clients. If any questions are missed or skipped in interviews, the forms are returned to staff and clients must be contacted to update the data.

Although the process is still ongoing, WCCS has established a clear path to maintain their data quality.