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Introducing the iCarol Ideas Portal

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One thing that makes iCarol software so especially suited for not-for-profit helplines of all types is that it was created from the direct experience of helpline volunteers, and continuously grows by incorporating the great ideas from our users and from industry experts. In fact, a bunch of the features and enhancements you enjoy today started out as an idea from someone who uses iCarol at their helpline. While we work on new big features and changes with our planned roadmap, we also use a community development approach for custom projects which enhances iCarol for all subscribers. All of this amounts to creating a robust and comprehensive all-in-one software solution that is invaluable for helpline staff and volunteers in their daily work.

So, with so many users sharing their great ideas, how do we gather and track them and eventually decide which are developed and added to iCarol? Well, we’ve been working on a new system for organizing and tracking the ideas submitted to us, and now it’s ready to make its debut! It’s called the iCarol Ideas Portal — a new and better way to submit and follow enhancement ideas. This portal is available to all iCarol users with a security setting of Standard or higher and offers a number of features and benefits, including:

  • Directly submit your idea right within the security of your iCarol system
  • Browse ideas submitted by other iCarol users
  • Add comments or additional thoughts to existing ideas
  • Filter ideas based on their status, feature area of idea, how recently they were added, or see ideas that are trending
  • Receive updates when your idea or an idea you’re interested in changes status or when another user adds a comment
  • Vote on the ideas which are the most important to you

That last capability will surely add some fun and interactivity to the portal, while also giving us helpful feedback towards prioritization by seeing which ideas are the most popular and meaningful to our clients. Each user will get 10 votes to apply to the ideas they like, and you can apply up to 5 votes to a single idea you really love. Ideas can also be retracted and added back to your bank of votes. This may be useful in times where you are out of votes but see a new idea you like more than one you’ve previously voted for. When an idea is released to iCarol, or if we move an idea to not likely to implement, all votes for that idea are returned to you.

You’ll find the iCarol Ideas Portal by navigating to the Help section of your iCarol system. We’ve also included a number of Help Articles that outline how to use the portal to browse ideas, vote on enhancements, add comments to existing ideas, or add your own idea for consideration.

It’s our hope that the new iCarol Ideas Portal will improve communication and help you share your great ideas for iCarol with us. We’re excited to open this new communication channel with the aim of continuing to enhance iCarol and have it reflect the many fantastic ideas from which all our users, and their communities, can benefit.

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Using Online Forms to build a Continuity of Care service model

Features

One of iCarol’s most versatile features, Online Forms, enables visitors to your website to enter information that, when submitted, becomes a completed call form in your iCarol system. While there are several use cases for iCarol’s Online Forms, one major focus of these forms is in enabling a true continuity of care between the initial service providers (e.g. hospitals, clinics, physicians) and the helpline service following up with the patient following discharge.

Health advocates agree, one of the biggest issues they face relates to following up with patients after they have been discharged. Many hospital systems lack the time, resources, and specialized knowledge to provide a comprehensive continuity of care and as a result are looking to helplines, warmlines, and information and referral services to provide follow-up to their recently discharged patients.

With iCarol’s Online Forms, hospital staff can enter patient information through a website, either yours or theirs, and the submitted information comes into your iCarol system as a completed call form. Once submitted, other actions can occur, including follow-up scheduled automatically and an email sent to one or more of your helpline staff. Then, your staff can use iCarol to contact the patient through a phone call or even a text message. Best of all, the data related to the initial form submission and all subsequent contact with the patient is all kept and reportable through the iCarol Statistics, allowing you to keep track of how many patients you’re receiving, why patients require a follow up from your helpline, and what happened when your staff followed-up with the patients.

We are acquainted with privacy laws like HIPAA (US), PIPEDA (Canada) and the Data Protection Act (UK and Europe). We have safeguards and processes so that we do our part to maintain compliance with these laws, and are willing to sign needed agreements asserting our role in your compliance with them. For more information about iCarol’s security settings and standards, download the iCarol Security Summary.

As more hospitals and physicians look to enhance the continuity of care for their discharged patients, helplines, warmlines, and information and referral services are uniquely positioned to fill this service gap for health providers and using Online Forms may just be the missing link that can help you fill this need.

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Self-service Tools: The new age of helpline service

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My former employer’s Executive Director used to always say that as long as people still used phones, our crisis lines would answer them, but if people used ESP to communicate, well, we’d use that too. While most humans haven’t yet figured out a way to use ESP for communication, our society is using different forms of communication and even non-communication to get information, assistance, and support.

Text and chat communication has grown exponentially across most age ranges within the past five years. On top of that, a growing trend has also arisen with the internet: self-service tools. There is a big opportunity for helplines of all kinds to use self-service tools to promote their services and increase partnership agreements.

Because we here at iCarol are committed to providing helplines and others the tools they need to reach people across multiple platforms, we created Online Forms. With Online Forms, website visitors can submit information which comes into your iCarol system as a completed report form. Since the forms are essentially a public facing version of an iCarol report form, you can view, edit, and report on the form in the same way as all of your other report forms.

Several possible applications exist for using iCarol’s Online Forms. Let’s explore two use cases:

Assessment and Program Intake

Elmdale Crisis Center (a fictitious organization) operates numerous crisis lines through various contracts with mental health authorities, public and private health providers, and local municipalities. Elmdale’s management team is looking at ways to increase contract amounts by providing additional services without adding too much burden on their staff. After reviewing their current service offerings, they found a few contract required assessments that could be offered through an additional avenue, Online Forms.

They designed the following workflow:

online form workflow

With this workflow, Elmdale Crisis Center can extend the service offerings of the contract with the goal of increasing the number of people who request an assessment and intake into the service provider’s programs.

Consumer Satisfaction Survey

Elmdale Crisis Center’s management team wants to capture a consumer’s satisfaction and risk levels after using their crisis services so that they can report on outcome achievements and demonstrate their social return on investment, necessary for future funding requests. They decided to use iCarol’s Online Forms so that the consumer’s responses and information comes into their system automatically and their front line staff is notified if the person submitting the form would like additional follow-up.

Elmdale placed the consumer satisfaction survey on their website and created an iCarol resource record containing the online survey link, so that their consumers can receive the link directly via a texted or emailed referral from the iCarol system. They instructed their workers to provide the survey link to consumers at the end of their conversations.

The management team designed the following online survey:

Pre-screening question – if answered “no”, visitor cannot complete the survey.

    1. Have you contacted Elmdale’s crisis services? Yes/No

    Survey Questions

    1. When did you last contact Elmdale’s crisis line?
  • Today
  • Yesterday
  • This week
  • Last week
  • Earlier this month
  • Last month
  • Longer than two months ago

  • 2. How did you contact Elmdale?
  • Call
  • Text
  • Chat
  • Other, please specify

  • 3. On a scale of 1-10, how upset were you at the beginning of your conversation with an Elmdale crisis worker?
  • 1-10 Scale

  • 4. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the level of empathy and understanding the Elmdale crisis worker demonstrated during your conversation?
  • 1-10 Scale

  • 5. One a scale of 1-10, how upset were you at the end of your conversation with an Elmdale crisis worker?
  • 1-10 Scale

  • 6. Will you contact Elmdale’s crisis services again?
  • Yes, definitely
  • Yes, possibly
  • No, probably not
  • No, definitely not

  • 7. Would you recommend Elmdale’s crisis services to a friend or family?
  • Yes, definitely
  • Yes, possibly
  • No, probably not
  • No, definitely not

  • 8. Would you like an Elmdale crisis worker to contact you regarding this survey?
  • No
  • Yes +
  • + Contact Information
    First Name ________________
    Phone Number __ (____) ___________
    Best time of day to call _______________

The versatility of iCarol’s Online Forms opens up entirely new methods for those in need to contact you. Using Online Forms provides additional opportunities to increase and improve service offerings, which can translate into more funding to support your helpline.

Do you have other ideas about how Online Forms can be used? Leave a comment below. Want to discuss some of these ideas with an iCarol staff member? Contact us.

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Key benefits of iCarol for Lifeline and Crisis Center Work

NSPL_Logo[1]

Many of our clients participate in the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Lifeline is a network of over 160 crisis centers in the U.S. These centers take calls and chats from all across the country, focusing on suicide prevention. These free and confidential services provide crisis support and community resource referrals, 24-hours a day.

Members of the Lifeline network follow proven protocols and guidelines to ensure safe outcomes for those in crisis. Whether you offer crisis services and/or are part of the Lifeline network, protocols and guidelines are critical to the success of your program. Ensuring they are easy to follow not only gives you better outcomes for those in crisis, but makes it easier for your staff and volunteers to do their important work.

I’m often asked by members of the Lifeline network and others in the field doing crisis center work why they should choose iCarol. Very simply put, iCarol is the expert in helping not-for-profit helplines set up their technology, to best support the protocols mentioned above.

In my experience managing a not-for-profit helpline who took calls for the Lifeline, as well as helping iCarol clients do the same, here is how iCarol can help:

  • Messaging built right in! Volunteers and staff sign into one system—iCarol—to handle calls for your agencies, calls for the Lifeline, and even chats for the Lifeline, or your own chats or texts. Read more here.

  • A live risk assessment gauge, developed by the Lifeline for iCarol, calculates suicide risk in real-time, and provides instructions on the next steps with each risk level. Learn more about this tool.

  • Intelligently designed call report forms allow for different ‘paths’ for your call takers. Example: If the call is a Lifeline call, a set of questions appears appropriate for that. Or, if the call is for a different program your agency takes calls for, have a different set of questions pop up.

  • Worried that your workers aren’t following certain protocols for imminent risk callers? Take what is described above a step further to make the response(s) required or not. This reduces error, as well as can provide crucial guidance about next steps for the call taker in tense situations.

  • Help your workers to provide referrals to community resources, designed in a very easy-to-use interface, even for a worker who is only there a few hours a week can use.

  • Provide staff feedback—right in iCarol—to the call taker. This feedback can be private, or visible to all. Perhaps they did not follow a certain protocol of the Lifeline, or another program appropriately. We give you the industry’s best way to provide them this feedback. It alerts them when they log in, to read their feedback, and then tracks it when they do!

  • Legal lock of call reports: Did something happen on an interaction that may be subpoenaed or looked into more? You can put a legal lock on it to ensure that no one, even the administrative users in your system, can make changes to it.

Hands down, iCarol is the best solution to support your work with the Lifeline, or other programs.

Want to learn more? Start a free trial or contact me.

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Add your logo to Call Report Form PDFs

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In our most recent release we added an enhancement that many may find useful — you can now add your organization’s logo to the top of call reports when they are generated into PDFs.

Creating a PDF of a call report form is useful for a number of reasons. Forms that are made into PDFs can be easily saved, printed, or emailed if needed. You can also conduct an advanced search of your call reports in iCarol, and then generate the resulting forms into a single PDF. This can be useful if you’d like to print or save a number of forms together at one time.

In instances where you may be saving or printing and then sending these forms to a third party, having your organization’s logo on that PDF can be extremely helpful in easily identifying the source of the PDF and attributing ownership to your service. When your funders and collaborators receive the PDF they can easily identify it as being from you. This also adds a professional touch to your form and an element of branding.

This enhancement is available to all iCarol subscribers and can be set up by anyone with Admin permissions. Here are the steps you take to enable this enhancement:

    To upload your logo:
  • Log into iCarol as an Admin
  • Click on “Admin Tools” from the left menu
  • From the Setup tab, click on “upload your agency’s logo and mission statement”

  • Add logo to iCarol

  • From the new page that opens, add your logo to the bottom section by following step 1 and step 2 to browse for and upload a logo

From there, you can decide individually which of your call report forms should have the logo appear when a PDF is made of that type of call report form, using the following steps:

  • Log into iCarol as an Admin, or an account with Call Report editing permissions
  • Click on “Calls” from the left menu
  • Click on “Manage Call Report Forms”
  • Click on “Edit this form” from under the Call Report version
  • Click on “Overall settings for this call report form” from the top of the page
  • Click on the setting “Put the Org’s logo at the top of each page on PDF’s of the call report” from under the “Other Features” section

  • Enable logo on PDF

  • Click “Save Settings”

Once these simple steps are complete, any PDFs generated from the selected call report form will include your logo in the upper left of the document.

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Quarterly Enhancement Webinar coming soon

Webinars w gray

It’s almost time for our next Quarterly Enhancement Review Webinar, the first of 2017, which will occur on Monday January 9th at 1pm EDT.

In this webinar we’ll review several features released to iCarol in recent months, plus we’ll speak a bit to enhancements coming soon.

These webinars are typically most beneficial and interesting to current iCarol clients who are Program Managers or Directors and use iCarol at an Admin or Supervisor security level, or those who are considering subscribing to iCarol. That said, all are welcome to attend.

This is part of our commitment to providing excellent communication about iCarol capabilities, updates, and enhancements on a regular basis. We hope you’ll join us!

Interested, but can’t make it on the 9th? No worries, we’ll have the recording available on our website shortly after the live broadcast.

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Using the Report Incident Tool to Report Issues with iCarol Messaging

chat vs text

In response to the increased use of alternate communication channels for help seekers, many iCarol clients are adding Messaging to their iCarol systems. Using Messaging, you can communicate with your help seekers via chat or text. As with other areas of iCarol, sometimes issues can arise that require making a report to the iCarol Support Team. The preferred method to communicate with the iCarol Support Team is to submit a case via the Online Case Management Tool. Please click here for more information on how to submit a case. When the issue is in regards to iCarol Messaging however, there is another tool that we encourage you to use to report issues with this area of iCarol.

Chat window incident report

This tool is called the Report Incident Tool and is found at the bottom of the counselor’s screen when addressing a Messaging conversation.

Any user can us this tool to report an issue. When one clicks Report Incident, a small form will appear in a pop-up window. Please enter a concise Subject that describes the issue, and then use the Description text box to further describe the issue in as much detail as possible.

Chat incident report

Once the security code is entered, and the “Report Incident” button clicked, a case will be created and sent to the iCarol Support Team. This case will also appear in the Online Case Management tool. All cases created in this manner are named “Messaging Incident #xxxx: Subject”. For example, the name of the incident shown in the screenshot above might be “Messaging Incident #2650: Strange symbols appearing in chat conversation”. The case will be appropriately attributed to your agency. The first available member of the iCarol Support team will respond to the case and begin the investigation of the issue.

The benefit of submitting Messaging cases in this manner is that this tool conveys additional details about the specific Messaging conversation the user was addressing that helps the iCarol Support and Technical teams immensely when investigating issues. Some of the details conveyed include browsers being used, platforms being used, and whether the visitor was using a mobile device. The details can be extremely helpful in investigating and ultimately resolving an issue. This quick and easy to use tool can be a benefit to you by conveying details “in the moment” so they are not forgotten. It can cut down or eliminate conversations or emails between the user who experienced the issue and an Admin user who wants to report the issue to iCarol Support. It can also mean that issues are reported faster, which could lead to faster investigation and resolution of the issue.

As always, if you have any questions about the Report Incident tool, or anything else, please do not hesitate to contact the iCarol Support team!

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Last call for your input on renaming “Calls” features

Calls

Back in October we noted that we are considering a change to the names and labels used for certain features of iCarol, in order to more accurately and inclusively reflect how these features are being used, and recognize the diverse services being offered by our users. We’ve gotten a lot of responses. Here’s just a glimpse at the results of our survey so far:




    Question 1: If we were to rename the “Calls” page to better describe how you use that area of iCarol, what word would you use?
    Top three choices:
    Contacts, Conversations, Interactions

    Question 2: If we were to rename “Caller Profiles” to also better describe the people who regularly use your service, what should we call it?
    Top three choices:
    Profiles, Clients, Familiar Users

    Question 3: Would you be interested in providing more product feedback to us while we work to improve iCarol? What is the best way to invite your feedback?
    Top three choices:
    Email, In-app pop-up surveys, Dashboard

There’s still a little time left to give your input before we close this survey on December 7th so our team can take the next steps to analyze your responses, discuss, and make our own recommendation to move forward. Don’t miss your chance to give your valuable input to this discussion!

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Going beyond “Calls” – We need your input

helpline call chat text

More than a decade ago when iCarol was first created by two helpline volunteers, Neil and Jackie McKechnie, helpline work was very much based in serving people via the phone. And the phone remains a method of communication to this day for helplines all over the world.

Over the years though, as new technologies grew in popularity and availability, people increasingly turn to channels like chatting, texting, or connecting with services through websites. And helplines need to embrace these new channels to stay relevant and reach more people. The flexibility in iCarol enables helplines to capture important information regardless of the type of contact — our Call Report Forms are used to collect data on interactions, whether they happen over the phone, online, via text, or even at in-person visits from mobile crisis teams or walk-in clinics. But some of the verbiage inside iCarol still centers around calls as a primary service, like the main Calls page, Call reports, and Caller Profiles.

We know that many helplines have expanded services beyond the phone, and that iCarol plays an important role in your documentation of all channels. For that reason, we are considering a name change for the “Calls” section of iCarol to better describe what you do and how you use these features. Please take 2 minutes to give your input about this by taking a brief survey.

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