Best Tech Tools for Agencies

With the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, and millions losing their jobs and in many cases their health insurance along with it, the need for a rapid approach to help is of the utmost importance. Policy changes and waivers have been put in place to respond to the huge increase in people applying for Medicaid, food assistance, and financial aid – changes that allow for flexibilities that will streamline the application process for benefits and assure that people receive the support they need as quickly as possible.

With that in mind, we offer some tips to help agencies help those in need to determine their eligibility and enroll in benefit programs easily and without any avoidable delays.

  • Use the phone to conduct interviews or assessments, or waive the requirement.
  • Accept electronic signatures for applications, renewals, and other forms.
  • Make sure that an online service works on all available browsers — Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer.
  • If making outbound calls to clients, work with phone companies to be sure your agency name appears on caller ID, rather than an unfamiliar number clients may not answer.
  • Start using an Instant Messaging (IM) platform, which allows clients to quickly communicate with an agency when they have a simple question or need basic information.
    • Ensure that response times are much shorter for answering an instant message than answering a phone. Individuals are prepared to wait on hold when they reach a call center, but expect an immediate response to an instant message.
  • After an action is completed (e.g., document uploaded), provide the client with a confirmation on screen and/or by e-mail.
  • Remind clients and assisters to either delete personal information used on a mobile device (including tablets) if it is a shared device or to enable the device’s security features.
Tips for Text Communication
  • Use plain text instead of rich text or HTML text so clients without smartphones or those with limited data plans can receive texts.
  • Collect email addresses and mobile phone numbers for texting as part of the normal demographic and contact information process rather than asking for that information separately.
  • Be prepared to respond to any reply texts. If no staff are assigned to monitor and respond to text messages, reply texts should generate a standard, automatic response referring the client to a customer service number.
  • Create an electronic communications policy outlining when the agency will use electronic communications, specifying that clients must affirmatively opt in, and describing the opt-out process.

Discover more #TechTips4HHS in our white paper, Improving Customer Service in Health and Human Services Through Technology.