MHA Essex County

The Cure for Sloppy Handwriting

Who: MHA Essex County
Services: Mental Health
Year Founded: 1966
Location: Montclair, NJ
Annual Operating Budget: $8 Million

The Situation: Multiple systems for tracking and billing multiple programs

The Mental Health Association of Essex County (MHA) first began using Foothold’s AWARDS software because it was the mandated system of the State’s HMIS collaborative, which was responsible for providing an unduplicated count of homeless individuals receiving services. The ease of the HMIS system inspired MHA to examine its data and billing processes for all of its other programs. The agency already had in place a server-based software, but the staff was not finding it useful and continued working on paper.

The Solution: Use AWARDS to track and bill for ALL services

With the goal of standardizing the staff’s workflow to simplify billing, MHA implemented AWARDS across the agency’s entire continuum of mental health and supportive living programs offered through multiple agencies and locations. Soon thereafter, the number of people using the software went from five to more than 80. Executive Director Robert Davison, who oversaw the transition with then Associate Executive Director Trina Parks, states, “Foothold provided a huge amount of support…and the trainings were incredibly helpful.” He adds, “We achieved the uniformity within our programs, service plans, assessments, and billing that we were looking for.”

The Result: Streamlined workflow and easier billing

“[Using AWARDS] is much easier than the paper record–first of all because we don’t have to interpret handwriting,” says Davison. “Quicker billing comes from quicker notes,” he adds, “because we no longer have to wait for the notes to be collected.” Perhaps the most important result of expanding the agency’s use of AWARDS, he says, is that “service delivery has improved exponentially because we have better information concerning the treatment of our customers…it’s probably the best process change we’ve ever made here, and I highly recommend it.”

“Service delivery has improved exponentially because we have better information concerning the treatment of our customers…it’s probably the best process change we’ve ever made here, and I highly recommend it.” Robert Davison, Executive Director, MHA Essex County