Culture in the Cloud: The Case of Headway Emotional Health Services

  • Richfield, MN
  • 100+ Staff
  • $5M annual budget

Headway Emotional Health Services used the Cloudand smartphones to allow mobile access to itto provide its case managers with a way to check their email, manage their own calendars and access client data.

The organization provides comprehensive mental health therapy, counseling and classes to more than 30,000 people each year, and each case manager is responsible for 15-to-18 clients. The nature of their jobs means they work mostly from the field. The goal was to see just how mobile they could be, said Brad Kopecky, Headways director of operations, which makes them more accessible to clients and less dependent upon the home office for scheduling and file access.

It turns them into a truly mobile workforce, he said.

Because clients are located across a broad geographic area and meetings tend to be last-minute, case managers used to struggle with the front office over scheduling, and seldom had the files needed for client visits in a given day. Scheduling through the office added an extra step, and worse, returning to the office to retrieve files meant staff spent more time on the road and less time meeting with clients.

The Cloud solution lets them manage their own calendars and share them with their supervisors and coworkers. They can also access client files remotely with their phones or laptops, enabling them to provide better service.

Client satisfaction has increased, and those surveyed said they appreciate not having to call the front desk to be transferred to voice mail, or to coordinate scheduling. But a bigger change, Brad said, is how the solution affected the way staff approached their work. It changed the way case managers think of their jobstheyre no longer office-based staff who spend a lot of time in the field, but truly mobile workers.

It required a cultural shift to rethink how those changes would be handled and acceptedincluding concerns about both logistics and adoption. Case managers had different amounts of experience, and came from different age groups, and his implementation team tried to be thoughtful about everything from the learning curve associated with mobile devices to the training required for the new applications.

That took longer than I expected, he said. Training is always a big issue.

Staff morale has improved accordingly, but there have been lingering challenges.

When you increase autonomy that much, it removes the support of the front desk, which can handle or avert something sometimes, he said.

His organization is still learning to accommodate those cultural changes, but theyre worth the trade-offthe benefits have paved the way for future changes in how Headway thinks about technology, and about the nature of staff positions.

Successes like these build credibility, Brad said. People become more engaged, and more open to ideas.

Chris Bernard