The perceived impact and usability of a care management and coordination system in delivering services to vulnerable populations: Mixed methods study

Rubina Rizvi, Courtney VanHouten, Tiffani J. Bright, Mollie M. McKillop, Shira Alevy, David Brotman, Megan Sands-Lincoln, Jane Snowdon, Barbie J. Robinson, Carolyn Staats, Gretchen P. Jackson, William J. Kassler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background: People with complex needs, such as those experiencing homelessness, require concurrent, seamless support from multiple social service agencies. Sonoma County, California has one of the nation's largest homeless populations among largely suburban communities. To support client-centered care, the county deployed a Care Management and Coordination System (CMCS). This system comprised the Watson Care Manager (WCM), a front-end system, and Connect 360, which is an integrated data hub that aggregates information from various systems into a single client record. Objective: The aim of this study is to evaluate the perceived impact and usability of WCM in delivering services to the homeless population in Sonoma County. Methods: A mixed methods study was conducted to identify ways in which WCM helps to coordinate care. Interviews, observations, and surveys were conducted, and transcripts and field notes were thematically analyzed and directed by a grounded theory approach. Responses to the Technology Acceptance Model survey were analyzed. Results: A total of 16 participants were interviewed, including WCM users (n=8) and department leadership members (n=8). In total, 3 interdisciplinary team meetings were observed, and 8 WCM users were surveyed. WCM provided a central shared platform where client-related, up-to-date, comprehensive, and reliable information from participating agencies was consolidated. Factors that facilitated WCM use were users' enthusiasm regarding the tool functionalities, scalability, and agency collaboration. Constraining factors included the suboptimal awareness of care delivery goals and functionality of the system among the community, sensitivities about data sharing and legal requirements, and constrained funding from government and nongovernment organizations. Overall, users found WCM to be a useful tool that was easy to use and helped to enhance performance. Conclusions: WCM supports the delivery of care to individuals with complex needs. Integration of data and information in a CMCS can facilitate coordinated care. Future research should examine WCM and similar CMCSs in diverse populations and settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere24122
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Journal of Medical Internet Research. All rights reserved.


  • Advanced technologies
  • Data integration
  • Managed care
  • Mixed methods study
  • Usability
  • Vulnerable population


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