In the twenty years I’ve spent designing and implementing software, I can safely say that social service agencies tend to be under-served by their IT strategies. The thing is, though, that a really good clinical decision support system (CDSS) can be way useful tool that can greatly enhance a clinician’s service provision. Even if behavioral health practitioners don’t use CDSS, the reality is that they should be employing some form of electronic health record system that can track a client’s case and maintain all HIPAA compliance. But, I’ve come to the conclusion that the social service sector, and behavioral health treatment providers in particular, are either afraid of technology or they just don’t want to bother with the challenges of defining and implementing an IT strategy.

However, if a clinician wants to build and maintain an ethical practice, that clinician should realize that security and documentation are his or her best friends. Not only does an effective electronic health record (EHR) system protect a client’s data, if it’s used properly, then the EHR can also protect and improve a clinican’s services by providing a local and secure location for all data pertaining to a client. If the EHR is coupled with a CDSS, then the full power of a effective IT solution can be implemented to make a clinician’s services much more effective.

As a clinician and a software implementation project manager, I can’t stress enough the importance for the social service sector to construct and maintain an IT strategy. Technology is not something that should elicit fear; rather, software can be a partner in providing quality services to those who need them the most.