Where is Care social services platform now live

Where is Care has gone live — after more than a year of forging community connections, several iterations of software development and a recent launch event.

This online platform for health and social services is the brainchild of Kevin Dwyer, who wanted to provide a single online location for uninsured and low-income people to find information about what kinds of local resources are available.

“You can look for accessibility in home improvement providers, assisted living, as well as emergency shelters, rent payment assistance, day shelter services,” he said.  

It’s centered on Dane County for now, but could spread across the state and even further if Dwyer’s vision comes to life.

About 75 organizations are now participating, including Madison groups as well as others statewide. These include Public Health Madison and Dane County, ARC Community Services, the Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program, the UW-Madison School of Social Work and many more.

“Right now, our key performance indicator is getting organizations to sign up,” he said. “We’ve been very fortunate to have a great network of community partners established before we went live, and now word is starting to spread.”

Just in the past few weeks, groups have signed on from Milwaukee, Janesville, Platteville, Edgerton, La Crosse and Wisconsin Rapids.

“That’s the exciting thing, we’re a couple weeks into it and organizations I’ve never heard of are joining,” he said.

Dwyer says the revenue model for the platform is a two-tier system. There’s the free community version that anybody can use. There’s also a professional version is also being created in partnership with Where is Care’s financial partners: SSM Health/Dean Medical Group, Aspirus, the Wisconsin Partnership Program, the Social Development Commission in Milwaukee and others.

This professional version of the platform is meant for people who would use the program on a daily basis, like social workers, doctors, nurses and case workers.

“That will have a logged-in user experience where they have additional features, functionality that relates to their job and makes it even more efficient for them,” he said. “Those partners I mentioned have the opportunity to collaborate with us on the development of new features.”

Dwyer and other members of the nonprofit held a soft launch event April 12 in Waunakee, which was hosted by community partners. He says this gave them a chance to test out the software without much risk “and it also gave the software team a deadline to work to.”

“They did an amazing job,” he said. “In the two weeks leading up to that launch date, they pushed a lot of features and got it really clean.”

And their job isn’t done yet, as Dwyer says one of the newer features is a suggestion box where users can submit ideas for what services they’d like to see listed and other desired improvements.

“Say you come here and you don’t actually find what you’re looking for… you can just type in whatever service you think should be here that’s not, and that goes straight to me, to my inbox,” he said. “If enough people suggest the same sort of services, then we’re going to start adding those.”

He added: “I figured the community was going to be a lot better at determining what the scope of this system should be, and I think crowdsourcing this type of information is a great way to go about that.”

The number of partner organizations is steadily growing, and Dwyer says the site is up to about 100 users per day, “which isn’t bad, considering it’s so new and not that many people know about it.”

“In all honesty, I’d like to see thousands of users every hour but that’s a long ways away… We’ll grow to there,” he said.

The effort is starting in the Madison area, but Dwyer stresses that this platform could be expanded easily without much change to the system.

“Now that it’s live, I hope to see organizations all over the country pop up,” he said.

He added that he’s already seeing some opportunities to connect with national organizations.

“We’re interested in pursuing those, but really right now our focus is right here at home,” he said.

Looking ahead, Dwyer says he’s in the process of talking with groups in Rock County, and has “a great deal of support” from the county’s local health department. He says the SDC in Milwaukee has also expressed interest in providing funding to expand in the southeast corner of the state.

“Our hope is we can continue to develop these relationships with hospitals, health systems, managed care organizations, health departments, etc., to grow,” he said.

Listen to an earlier podcast on Where is Care, formerly known as HealthConnect.Link: http://wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Article=388418

Check out the Where is Care platform here: http://www.whereiscare.org/

–By Alex Moe