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F. Overview of Performance Management or Common Client Systems

Performance Management or Client Record Systems are the best means of providing up-to-the-minute information and reports on your provider and client base. These types of IT systems are easily scalable (often web-based) and increase their cost effectiveness the more users there are.

These types of system automate the processes of data capture and generate a series of common reports, amongst other functions. They allow manual data entry or automated feeds from a number of providers in pre-specified formats. In this way, they reduce error rates, speed up collation and processing times (to minutes rather than days), and provide the opportunity for more frequent and standardised reporting. These systems save time and effort (over Data Aggregation Systems) whilst improving the quality of data outputs.

A Performance Management System or Common Client Records System will have the best chance of success (avoiding system failure) if Management Information Outputs, Common Datasets and Common Operating Models and Processes are discussed and defined sooner rather than later.

Due to the costs involved and the size of the undertaking (from a resource perspective) any mistakes are generally expensive. It is therefore important to minimise some or all of the following which can cause projects of this type to fail:

  • Poor definition of requirements (inputs and outputs)
  • Unrealistic user expectations
  • A lack of user motivation and resistance to use
  • Poor data quality
  • Inability to scale (higher use or user numbers)
  • Inability to exchange information with other systems
  • Non-future proofed (non-standard platform and technology)
  • Lack of understanding of key project stages and the time and resource required
  • Lack of Project Management
  • Poor Cost Control

Client Record Systems provide a single view of the client that organisations can share, review and append. They also make possible a range of Client Management processes, including supporting Keyworker and Common Assessment processes. Client Record Systems support and encourage common system processes between organisations and partnership-wide consent from clients to share information across organisations. They also have at their heart the concept of a common client record with a unique identifier.

(a) Client Record System: Agreement of a Unique ID

A unique ID forms the basis of a common Client Record System, allows absolute identification of the individual and makes a number of IT system processes possible, including client record append, review and single registration processes. Where a common client record system does not use a unique ID then there are limits to the data sharing potential of the system.

A unique ID field (or combination of fields) need to be agreed. The simplest means of defining a unique ID is through a system generated ID. A system generated ID also requires an associated Operational Model that users understand and adhere to, in order to ensure that unique system records are managed appropriately. A system generated ID is typically not unique to other systems and a more widely recognised identifier is needed to map client records from one system to another (in other words for wider data-sharing).

There is no unique ID that is widely supported by employability and non-employability provider organisations. Potential identifiers include NI (National insurance) number, SCN (Scottish Candidate Number), CHI (Community Health Index) or Citizens number. There are issues in using any of these identifiers, for example, NI number is not unique (there are a number of duplicates in existence) nor was it ever designed for client tracking. CHI number is a health related data field, would be difficult to capture and would raise data protection concerns for providers around the purpose of this information. Similarly SCN number is more relevant for individuals of school age, again would be difficult to capture and would be considerably less relevant as the individual grows older, raising concerns over data protection. 

Without a widely supported method of unique identification, wider sharing of client data between systems would appear both cumbersome and problematic. The best short-term solution to the issue of unique identification would appear to be the system generated ID. Longer-term there is one solution that can provide an absolute match and overcomes the significant data protection issues that might otherwise exist; that is the eCare initiative.

(b) Client Record System: Keyworker or Client Manager

A Keyworker or Client Manager is a useful element of a Client Record System (although some areas have implemented their system without this role).

The Keyworker ensures that the individual does not slip between providers, enter training cycles or get lost on the system. A key worker ensures that the client will be progressed appropriately and that the client has a point of contact and reference for their journey.         

A Keyworker needs a common, shared Client Record System to conduct their job appropriately, and a Client Record System has a duty of care to the individual whose information it is collecting to ensure that this information is used responsibly and with the individual's best interests in mind.

In future, the Keyworker role may have wider impact outside of one particular system and may not be limited to one theme, such as employability, healthcare or social care. However, for this to happen, partners must agree the basis for a Common Shared Assessment

Our choice of MIS was influenced by the number of providers and projects we had at that time. As a result, we made the decision to focus on a Performance Management system with 'just enough' information. This decision certainly helped us to go live with our system far quicker.

Respondent, Area F