Helpline Center

Report date
May 2023

What has been most instrumental to your progress?

One key component to our progress continues to be ongoing relationships with community leaders in Brookings and Watertown. It is especially instrumental that our HCNC Partner Engagement Specialist, Tehra, lives in Brookings. Both communities have several interagency coalitions which Tehra is a part of. We have been able to bring the Helpline Center Network of Care (HCNC) to existing coalitions and community care coordination efforts.
Another specific aspect that has contributed to our progress on this project is our human-centered approach. We have built our HCNC partner engagement strategy with empathy and listening as core values. Our goal is to build authentic relationships with partners and work together to determine if HCNC is a good fit.
A third aspect of our progress has been a continuation of technical flexibility. In 2022, we transitioned to a new software platform that offers more configuration and integration. Many organizations need a certain level of customization to bring them to the table. Community-based social service providers are spread thin, so we try to meet their minimum needs to add efficiency for them rather than adding more work.

Key lessons learned

One key lesson our team learned this year is that we will continually need to navigate that boundary of how much customization we can offer to partners while maintaining the ability to scale effectively. We are faced with the challenge of trying to build a comprehensive community care history of an individual, while also meeting all the technical capacities and situations of community partners to pull that together. This is not a point of failure, but the issue will push us to delegate where quantity and quality of partnerships come together.
Another lesson we are grappling with is how to really dig into effective measurement of well-being, unmet needs, and interoperability with social determinants of health systems measurements that are coming online from the Gravity Project. This is an evolving area with many changes to come, but important for the future health of the technology infrastructure itself and future partners.

Reflections on inclusive, collaborative or resourceful problem-solving

Over the last year, the resourceful element stands out as being instrumental in our progress. Each new partner brings system insights that challenge us to try new things and get creative in solving problems without additional costs. For example, we created an update email that can be sent out from within a client record so the client can update their own information digitally from a secure email.

Other key elements of Community Innovation

Due to the operational status of HCNC, we have started thinking strategically about what the next level of innovation can look like in terms of community data analytics and interoperability with health and spending outcomes. Communities want actionable data that can help guide investment in programs and services that reduce the use of emergency services.

Understanding the problem

The goal of HCNC has been to build a coordinated social service system through collaborative processes. Our partners know first-hand the struggle of community members to navigate complex systems to access the services they need to be healthy. They experience the inefficiencies of siloed data systems that result in duplicated processes and limited visibility into barriers and service gaps. Since last year, our main point of clarity is the necessary focus on meeting partners where they are at technologically and being open to bringing data together however we can. Organizations in the social service system are so diverse in their technical maturity, funding sources, legal compliance, and in the services they provide that integration is the only way to bring everyone to the table. That realization continues to open the door to innovations and connections we had not considered before.

If you could do it all over again...

Seven years ago at the beginning of HCNC, we thought all partners needed to use one software and all needs and services tracked are based on 211 taxonomy. We continue to use taxonomy, however best practices have expanded to include a focus integration with social needs tracked by domain rather than taxonomy. We would go back and tell ourselves to be technology agnostic from the start with a set of social need domains defined. This would have given us an easier way to bring in data from disparate sources and better make sense of community needs and strategies to improve social care.