Evidence-based programs like falls prevention classes, caregiver training, and chronic disease self-management workshops offer proven ways to promote health and wellness among older adults. The Older Americans Act Title III-D Program funding helps to fund many evidence-based programs offered across the country by community providers. Learn more about evidence-based programs.
In this article, we will talk about the role of technology for providers in administering evidence-based programs and how it can save time for administrators, streamline operations, and improve data capture and reporting.
Increased technology adoption
Often offered as a series of classes or workshops, evidence-based programs can be delivered in-person, telephonically, via mail materials, or increasingly common, virtually via video conferencing solutions. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed many older adults to adopt technology solutions to access resources virtually, with community providers responding in kind to make virtual programming available. The National Council on Aging has published resources to help providers connect older adults to technology services and support.
Correspondingly, community providers of evidence-based programs have also stepped up their technology game to implement systems internally that help with program administration and impact tracking. Evidence-based programs must follow strict guidelines on the classes themselves, what is taught and how. However, when it comes to how community providers administer these programs and keep track of signups, instructors, survey data, and other logistics, there is a lot of flexibility. Each provider may have their own organizational systems and tools to manage their programs.
What a technology platform can do
As any provider of an evidence-based program can likely attest, there is a lot that goes into planning and executing a successful program. Once you’ve selected the evidence-based program(s) you will deliver, technology tools can support in the following ways:
Public events calendar: Getting your programs posted online has the dual advantage of marketing your events and managing sign-ups (see next bullet). A low cost way to post your events online is to start a Facebook events page. Providers that offer multiple programs and events may want to consider a more robust calendaring system, like the one offered by Mon Ami. It allows providers to create and publish programs to a public calendar that can be embedded on your website, as seen here on one organization’s website.
- Consumer sign-up and registration: Ditch the paper sign-ups and move towards digital registration. Even something simple like a Google forms sign-up link can help reduce paperwork and increase efficiency. A holistic events management system like Mon Ami can take consumers from your public events calendar to sign up to filling out pre-evaluation surveys in one place.
Event communication & reminders: Upon registration, attendees should receive a confirmation letting them know they are signed up for a program and reminder emails a day before the scheduled start. Use a calendar scheduling service like Google calendar to schedule reminders, or let Mon Ami’s event management system automatically handle it for you.
Track registration & attendance: It’s extremely important for evidence-based programs to track attendance across programs to give participants credit and to report on activity for their funders. A rudimentary excel spreadsheet can easily keep track of attendance per class. As the number of classes and participants increase, excel spreadsheets or other manual systems can be challenging to work with or pull data from. Mon Ami’s registration forms link directly to your internal event tracking system, where you can keep track of who has registered, and be able to mark attendance or no-shows.
Manage instructors & facilitators: Don’t overlook the need to track and support the instructors and facilitators who lead each program, whether they are volunteers or paid staff. Manage a roster of instructors with their contact information, classes they teach, and schedules. With Mon Ami, you’re able to link each program or class with the instructor(s) involved and track volunteer hours. Instructors also have the ability to mark attendance electronically.
Conduct pre- and post- evaluation surveys: A lot of time can be wasted transcribing handwritten surveys into a digital system. It is a good idea to start with a digital survey to collect pre- and post-evaluations or assessment data. You can start with something like Google Forms or Survey Monkey. Alternatively, Mon Ami’s built-in survey tools can help you collect this data as part of the registration and class sign-up process, as well as in post-program evaluations. Data collected is automatically linked to participant profiles so you can see how many classes they attended, associated with their survey results.
- Reporting & data analysis: With an evidence-based program, you will likely need to report on a number of measures to evaluate performance and impact. There are output measures to track, such as registration numbers, attendance across a series, instructor hours. Then there are survey measures to track and analyze. It helps to have a reporting tool that can help you with this. With Mon Ami’s flexible and robust reporting, you can generate reports you’ll need for your funding sources, as well as outcome reports that help you understand the impact you’re having on your participants.
Case study: Utah's expansion of two evidence-based programs using Mon Ami software
In Utah, the state's Department of Aging and Adult Services partnered with local agencies to deliver two evidence-based programs for Alzheimer's and dementia caregivers: Dealing with Dementia and Dementia Dialogues. The state agency and local Area Agencies on Aging created a unique collaboration to bring funding, technology, and assistance to these programs and scale them statewide.
Kristy Russell works with the state’s Department of Aging and Adult services to oversee these programs statewide and describes a hodgepodge approach prior to working with Mon Ami. “When older adults came to us at the state, I had to direct them to multiple different websites or PDFs or other resources that each agency maintained. It was not centralized and it was hard to know what programs had availability or how to sign up.”
Now, the state has one central public events calendar that showcases each agency’s roster of evidence-based programs. Each agency can create and publish its own programs, classes, and activities and indicate if there is a waitlist or attendance limit. Older adults can more easily find programs they’re interested in and sign up themselves.
For the local Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), it’s been a game changer. Stephanie Benson runs programs for one of the designated AAAs in Utah. She notes, “One thing I wish I knew was that registration and reporting doesn’t have to be cumbersome. Before working with Mon Ami, we had so many google forms and spreadsheets. It was a job in itself. Now, we have one place where people can go. And logistically behind the scenes, the reporting to the state is so much easier now. I like to work smarter, not harder.”
Working smarter, not harder, has generated significant savings too. Prior to Mon Ami, the state agency had allotted budget for a full-time employee just to manage the registration and reporting needs across the AAAs. Instead, Kristy Russell was able to save those dollars and deploy the extra funding to the local AAAs. “It was amazing to have the cushion to ask the AAAs what they needed and deliver extra educational materials, training, support, etc.”