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Integrations and Collaborations

At iCarol, it’s one of our deeply held beliefs that your data belongs to you.

We see it as part of our mission and stewardship of that data to help you harness it to do more good in your community, provide continuity of care to people in need, and enhance your relevance and marketability as a community partner and vital provider of services.

How to Identify and Build Partnerships

Successful partnerships can solve problems, create new opportunities, reduce costs and build strong, resilient networks.

You can increase the likelihood of your partnerships being successful and beneficial to all involved, by completing a few steps early. Check out our original eBook — authored by iCarol staff who are experts on building, facilitating, and project managing collaborative efforts — which guides you through a step-by-step process from the start to finish of building a successful partnership.

What Collaborations/Integrations Can iCarol Support?

If you need to share or push data out to different systems, iCarol has you covered!

Common collaborations include:

  • Document intake forms in iCarol then securely transmit collected data to electronic health records (EHR) systems
  • Automatically share intake data with county/state emergency services
  • Contribute data to 2-1-1 Counts
  • Send intake forms to food pantries, homeless shelters, and other community partners
  • Contract with other contact centers to document after-hours calls/chats/texts using iCarol
  • Share a resource database/service inventory with a center that takes calls/chats/texts from your service area
  • Share data to assist in disaster response
  • Work with Healthcare Navigators to improve access to services
  • Build custom service inventories for a specific region or target group
  • Build Mobile Apps to help community members navigate available services
  • Push community resource data to Healthcare provider websites
  • Assign clients to waitlists for services
  • Track partner organizations’ capacity for new client referrals
  • Allow partners direct access to intake/referral information that has been sent to their organization
  • And much, much more…

Technical Considerations Before Getting Started

When contemplating integrations with other systems, you’ll want to check on:

  • The options the other system/software has available for importing/digesting data
  • The frequency at which you need to share data
  • Whether you need near real-time data sharing or are comfortable with daily, weekly or greater sharing frequencies

All of this will help determine which iCarol option would work for you.

How Is This Accomplished?

The types of data integration generally breaks down into one of two categories:

  1. Sharing data outside of iCarol or
  2. Sharing data inside of iCarol, with other iCarol systems

Sharing data outside of iCarol

Exporting files in CSV, XML, etc. format – manually or automated

You can manually initiate exports of your data at any time, or iCarol can automatically run an export of your Contact Records, Resource Database, Shift data, and more in a CSV file for download, or even place it onto a FTP site you maintain. If you want the data to be imported in another system, you could potentially program another system to pick up the data off of the FTP site, or manually import into the other system. This all depends on the capability of the other system.

In addition to CSV files in the standard iCarol schema, your Resource Database can also be exported in the AIRS XML 3.0 format, or in the Open Referral Human Services Data Specification (HSDS) 1.1 schema, recently endorsed by AIRS as a primary method for establishing interoperability among resource databases and associated technologies.

Manual exports of your data can be initiated at any time. One automated, monthly export of data is included in our standard subscriptions, but additional scheduled exports that extract different data, or at different frequencies, can easily be added on to your iCarol subscription.

Resource API (Application Program Interface)

Using this solution requires the assistance of a technical person on your side. The Resource API allows web or application developers to search your resource database and access details about specific records. In essence, this option allows your web or application developer to connect to your resource data through a web service to other applications. Resource data is provided by JSON in either the standard iCarol or HSDS schema. iCarol customers use this feature to contribute resource data to a partner’s website, create mobile apps, create custom web searches for resources, and more.

Contact Record API (Application Program Interface)

Similar to our Resource API, this solution requires the assistance of a technical person on your side. The Contact Record API is used by iCarol customers to improve continuity of care, contribute data to partner dashboards, and more. This service securely transmits your Contact Record data to a third-party restful API/web hook as those records are created or updated in iCarol, allowing for near real-time sharing of your Contact Record data. Customers could have that data automatically pushed into another program, if that other program has such capabilities. Once a Contact Record is created in your iCarol system, your partners can also use the API to update those Contact Records with additional data they may have to contribute, such as outcomes, updates on client status, and more.

Learn more about the Contact Record API.

Data Replication

The data replication service populates an external SQL database securely with Contact or Resource data maintained within an iCarol system, allowing for real-time data sharing. The data is structured in the standard iCarol schema, allowing your database administrator to create data models and relating tables. Some iCarol customers use this to build their own server, and take data from multiple sources and combine it, with one of the sources of data being iCarol. Our customers have also used this option to create websites, public dashboards, and to populate data into other systems.

Email Contact Records

Contact Records in iCarol can be converted to PDF and then authorized personnel can send an email with a password protected PDF file of the Contact Record, right within the iCarol system. iCarol customers use this method when they need to:

  • Send a warm referral to another agency
  • Transmit Contact Records to a funder who requires a copy of the contact
  • Refer a Mobile Crisis Intake to a crisis specialist on duty
  • Send the details of a high risk interaction to the counselor or supervisor on duty so they can follow up

If the emailed Contact Records will regularly go to the same recipient(s), the same subject line, body text, etc., can be used repeatedly by creating a template. This can save data entry time when preparing the email, and keep a consistent message if emailing records as a part of a specific contract or program.

Sharing data inside of iCarol, with other iCarol systems

Contact Form Sharing

Organizations that are a part of collaborations or networks may wish to share Contact Form versions for documenting interactions with help seekers. Using the same form across the collaborative helps with consistency of data collection, and assists in the process of load balancing or transferring calls after hours or during disasters. There are multiple configuration settings and permissions options for this type of sharing. One popular setting allows for follow-up sharing between members of the collaboration – for instance, a caller who reaches the center providing the after hours answering but wishes for their follow-up to occur the next day during business hours. The after hours center can schedule that follow-up call, and have that follow-up activity appear in the daytime center’s iCarol system, allowing for seamless follow-up regardless of who fields the initial conversation and who will field the follow up. This type of sharing relationship can also include in-system reporting on the data collected on those forms across the network. Sharing forms can also assist with closed-loop referral capabilities between your center and service providers.

Resource Database Sharing

Organizations that are a part of collaborations or networks may also wish to share Resource Database/Service Inventory information, allowing centers to make referrals from a single shared resource database, or a fellow center’s inventory of community service providers. A common example of this occurs in statewide or provincial 2-1-1 networks, where multiple contact centers answer calls across an entire region. In these collaboratives, there is often either a single resource database maintained that covers the entire service area, from which all the participating centers can make referrals, or each center curates their own database covering their service area which they share with the other centers in the partnership. This way, no matter which center a help seeker reaches and where that help seeker is located, the center fielding their call can give them appropriate referrals. There are several options for permissions and configuration to fine tune these relationships in accordance with your network’s preferences and policies.

Messaging (Live Chat and SMS/Texting)

When adopting communication channels like Live Chat or SMS/Texting, organizations often enter into collaborative partnerships so that a significantly sized geographic areas, or high volume of contacts, can be effectively served. Multiple organizations who all use iCarol can share this Messaging volume in a number of ways.

  • Portal Sharing
    A single Messaging portal is shared and appears across the iCarol systems participating in the collaboration. Partnering organizations share messages sent to one messaging portal with another partner’s messaging portal in their own iCarol system. This also includes sharing a single Contact Form that is used to log the interactions, allowing for consistent documentation and statistical reporting across organizations.
  •  
  • Collaborative Portal
    Messages received in a single Messaging portal are routed to partners’ iCarol Messaging portals in their own iCarol systems, depending on a number of rules or criteria determined by the members of the collaboration.This also includes sharing a single Contact Form that is used to log the interactions, allowing for consistent documentation and statistical reporting across organizations.

Chatboard, News, and Events

In much the same way it works for Contact Records and Resources, iCarol customers can also share other features with their partners who are using iCarol. For instance:

  • Create a shared Admin and Supervisors Only Chatboard forums to share information about administering the collaborative.
  • Create a shared Chatboard forum for all users to share tips and tricks, training information, or to build relationships between users in multiple iCarol systems.
  • Create and share News items or appointments in the Events calendar among multiple iCarol users across systems in a Disaster Event, while you load share call volume, or for other collaborative purposes.
  • Create and share News and announcements with all users in multiple iCarol systems.
  • Share information about Events such as training opportunities, certification exams, fundraising activities and other important milestones with all users in multiple iCarol systems.

Learn more about this capability or view use cases.

In Conclusion

At iCarol, we recognize that collaboration between organizations is a key component to leveraging your organization’s strengths to open new revenue streams, participate in exciting projects, obtain funding, and make a deeper positive impact in your immediate community, regionally, or nationally. We are always listening, to our customers and to leaders in the industries we serve, to learn more about the needed collaborative solutions and capabilities.

Have questions or would like to learn more about how iCarol can help you with your next collaboration?

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