How It Works
Open Path is a data integration platform that supports care coordination, coordinated entry processes, and in-depth analysis of homeless services.
The system is designed to:
- Process client record updates daily from multiple sources
- Store information beyond the HUD HMIS specification, including assessments
- Support coordinated care efforts, giving service providers a (permissions-managed) view of comprehensive client histories
- Identify vulnerable and chronically homeless people throughout a community
- Generate HUD-required reports
- Monitor data quality across multiple agencies
The Open Path HMIS Warehouse supports multiple ways of gathering data, frequently, with minimal labor. HMIS CSV export files are uploaded nightly, and HMIS APIs are called for additional data (including assessments, case manager information, and photos). The platform can be readily customized to access third-party structured data (like calendar appointments and medication lists). A dashboard provides administrators a clear view of the status of all import processes.
Records merging and de-duplication is sophisticated, and is handled in three ways:
- Records that are clear matches, sharing a combination of name, birthdate, and SSN, are automatically merged
- Records that are probable matches, based on statistically calculated similarity, are presented to an administrator for confirmation
- Any two records can be merged (or un-merged) at any time by an administrator
Merge decisions are preserved indefinitely and are not affected by subsequent data loads. No client information is overwritten during a merge. Rather, multiple records are flagged as one for viewing and reporting.
What case managers and service providers know about a client is often limited to what their agency has collected. The Open Path HMIS Warehouse gives those providers a way to see a more complete, holistic client picture – a fundamental tool for managing integrated, coordinated care.
The system can comply with varied data sharing agreements, limiting access by user role. With permission, a case manager might utilize a client's exhaustive housing and shelter history, program registration history, and even medical history to inform care decisions. With up-to-date records, if a client stops frequenting a shelter or program, a case manager can determine if that individual is permanently housed, is safely going elsewhere, or should be a targeted with direct street outreach activity.
Calendar view of client service history from HMIS data
There are features to:
- Import diagnoses, medications, appointments, and case notes from Electronic Health Record (EHR) management systems
- Collaboratively build individual care plans, setting goals, defining care teams, and tracking progress
- Import Medicaid claims data to analyze health performance over time
There are also features that allow the platform to be used in situations where collaborating agencies may not have access to each other's systems: things like assessments, service referrals, and care coordination notes can be entered directly into the system for sharing.
The Open Path CAS is a tool for communities to match homeless people with available housing assets in a way that:
- Provides transparent logic for individual and housing prioritization
- Handles the communications and logistics of coordinating a successful move-in
- Preserves client privacy while meeting data confidentiality laws
- Can be used as a standalone system or integrated with HMIS
When a housing vacancy arises (either a voucher or physical unit), Open Path CAS generates a prioritized list of eligible people. A user with permission can manage the organization of service programs, funding sources, and specific project units—each of which can have eligibility criteria. This function allows housing opportunities that come from a given funding source to be limited to veterans, for example, or women under 25 years old.
When a housing opportunity is marked available, the system identifies people who are currently homeless who meet the preset eligibility rules. It then prioritizes that list based on several factors and suggests who might best fit that particular housing chance. This prioritization logic can be customized in a variety of ways: to reflect how a community prioritizes housing; for legal restrictions; to account for the available data; to weight the length of homelessness, or degree of "chronicity" or vulnerability; the size of the eligible population; and even the predicted chance of long-term success.
In an ideal world, a CAS can be used to identify the best match by incorporating readily available data. The complex reality is that the full context of someone's circumstances often is not documented rigorously within a database system. In these cases, the Open Path CAS streamlines the process by providing a list of potential matches, based on the available data to develop a prioritized list, from which someone—a housing navigator, say—can select.
Much of the coordination of Coordinated Entry housing services is communication between people. Once a housing match is selected, Open Path CAS provides a (customizable) email-based workflow to bring everyone—the homeless person, municipal staff, service provider administrators, caseworkers—into the process. Notifications containing time-expiring links provide status information and decision making capability without exposing personal identifiable information. The system also has overrides to prevent a non-responding party from delaying a housing process.