New Features in Clarity Human Services!

This month Bitfocus is excited to release new features for Clarity Human Services! Read on to find out what's new and what changes you can expect to see!

Count of Days Pending for Coordinated Entry Referrals

Now you can monitor how long it takes between a referral is received by your agency and when it get marked as “Pending - In Process.” You can find this information under the Days Pending column in the Pending tab of the Referrals screen. This new category is simply labeled "pending."

  • Total: This count continues to display the number of days since a referral was first created/added to the community queue.
  • Pending: New! This count shows the number of days between the date a referral was reassigned to a program, and the date the Status of the referral was changed to "Pending - In Process."
  • In Process: This count continues to indicate the number of days since a referral Status was changed to “Pending - In Process."

Improved Referral History Tracking

We've added a bunch of additional information to the Referral History section of client referral screens. These additions make it much easier to track all the events in a referral's history. 

Highlights of changes include:

  • Activity: More activities are included, with additional description to clarify what happened, including program and agency information when applicable. For example, when a referral is removed from the community queue, the activity now includes the reason why. And when a referral is reassigned to a program, the program name and agency are also included.
  • Date: This column now includes both the activity date, as well as the timestamp indicating when the activity took place in the system. This is helpful when the activity date is one entered by the user (such as program enrollment date), so that the timeline of events is clearer when dates are back- or future-dated.
  • Staff: This column now includes the staff person performing the activity in the system, as well as the agency they were logged in under while performing the activity. In cases of automated system activity, the staff person listed is Admin Admin, with the agency originating the referral.

“Refer to Queue” Button Is Now More Visible

Referring a client to the community queue used to require users to scroll all the way down the screen before the "Refer Directly to Community Queue" button became visible. To address that, we've moved the button up, so now it displays directly below assessment score on the Eligibility Determination screen.


Update Queue with Most Recent Assessment Score

Later this month, when a client has more than one assessment of the same type in HMIS, the system will automatically update the Community Queue with the most recent assessment score. This ensures that clients can maintain their history on the Queue even when updated assessment information has been entered for them. When this feature goes live, all historic assessment scores will be updated if applicable, as well as new scores going forward.

You can tell that an assessment score has been updated by looking in the referral history. When an assessment score is updated, you will see information indicating such in the Activity column, along with a link to the previous assessment.

Additional Referral Denial Reasons and Updates to Email Notifications

When you deny a referral, you are required to choose the Denial Reason. Later this month, we'll be adding, renaming, and retiring some options on this list based on agency and MatchMaker feedback. Highlights include:

  • Client could not be located
  • Client currently incarcerated 
  • Client deceased
  • Client housed - through another program
  • Client currently in another program
Renaming: Client out of County (previously "Client out of Jurisdiction")
Retiring: Denied by Landlord/Property Manager

Not sure which reason to choose when denying a referral? Check out this document for some guidelines.

In addition, when a referral is denied, an autogenerated Clarity Human Services email is sent to users involved with the referral. This email will now include next steps (if any) that users should take if they are still in contact with the client or if the client returns in the future for services. These next steps were provided by the MatchMakers and are based on the reason for denying the referral.

Data Literacy Institute: Sept Recap and New Webpage

September workshops: HMIS Data In Action

In September, the Data Literacy Institute reviewed how HMIS data is used in Federal and County reports. Client profile, program enrollment (including entry, status update, annual assessment, and exit), and program setup information is frequently used in federal reporting. HUD requires communities to submit reports based on HMIS data throughout the year. Federal reports include:

  • Housing Inventory Count (HIC)
  • Point In Time Count (PIT)
  • System Performance Measures (SPM)
  • Longitudinal System Analysis (LSA) - new this year

Client profile, program enrollment service, assessment, and other information is included in reports run by the Office of Supportive Housing (OSH). Examples of OSH reports can be viewed on the OSH website.

For more information, view the slide deck from the workshops here: HMIS Data In Action

Thanks to everyone who attended the workshops! If you are interested in attending a future workshop, check out our brand new Data Literacy Institute webpage or look at the Upcoming Events section in this newsletter for more information.


New Webpage

Want to know what Data Literacy Institute events are coming up and register for a future workshop? Missed the last workshop and want to see what was covered? Want an electronic copy of any slides or handouts given out at a workshop?

Check out our new Data Literacy Institute webpage by going to the SCC HMIS website, clicking on the Training tab, and choosing Data Literacy Institute. We'll be updating the page regularly with new events and resources!

What to Do When Staff Leave

When staff leave your agency, it's important to end their access to HMIS as soon as possible. Not only is this important for data security, but it can also help ensure that clients don't fall through the cracks!

After a staff person has left, please complete the following steps:

  1. Notify the Helpdesk so that they can close the staff person's HMIS account. You can do this by phone (408.596.5866 x2) or email.
  2. Make sure that clients assigned to the staff person are re-assigned to an active staff member. This ensures the client shows up on someone's caseload, and that an active staff member receives any system notifications related to the client's activity. You can locate clients assigned to the former staff person by running the Program Roster report (export to a spreadsheet and sort by "Assigned Staff"), and you can reassign staff by following these instructions (or by asking the Helpdesk for help).

How can I find all staff who might have left?

We know that when staff leave, you may be focused on many priorities other than their HMIS access, so it can be easy to forget to close their accounts. Let the [DQXX-103] Monthly Staff Report help you out! This report is sent to agency leads on the 15th of every month (or can be run from the Report Library) and is a helpful resource for identify staff who are no longer active with your agency. Scroll down to this month's Report Spotlight for more information on this report!

Data Quality Lab - Part VI - Building a Data Quality Plan

Over the past several months we have been working with providers and other stakeholders to identify and address a range of data quality issues. This is Part 6, the final part in our multi-part series to help HMIS users troubleshoot data quality in HMIS. Follow the instructions in each of these data quality labs to establish a baseline of high quality data for your projects in HMIS! Previous articles: Part 1 - Getting Group Enrollments RightPart 2 - Dangling EnrollmentsPart 3 - Missing DataPart 4 - Getting Services Right; Part 5 - Entries from Homelessness, Exits to Housing

Data quality can be improved on a case by case basis as you identify issues, but creating and implementing a data quality plan ensures that your agency and programs are continually monitoring and improving data, and that those data accurately represent the outcomes your agency is achieving. In this final article of our Data Quality Lab series, we'll explore the how, why, and best practices for setting up a data quality plan at your agency.

Why should we bother with a data quality plan?

As more and more communities and funders shift toward data-driven outcomes and performance-based pay, accurate data documented quickly and completely can make a significant financial impact on your agency. Accurate data in federal reporting can result in our community receiving more money to spend on programs like yours. Accurately providing information on who is homeless and what interventions lead to success can help inform local and national policy around how resources are prioritized. As our communities increasingly look to data to answer questions, ensuring that your data is accurate, timely and complete will ensure that those questions are answered correctly.

Creating and Implementing a Data Quality Plan


1. Define Scope

As a community, we collect a lot of data elements. In HMIS alone, some programs require over 70 data elements in order to get a client enrolled. Trying to make sure that every field is filled out perfectly can be a daunting task, especially if you already know that your data quality has a lot of room for improvement. Defining the scope of what specific elements or outcomes you want to review and improve upon gives you a clearer and more achievable place to start.

Not sure where to start? Check out the HUD HMIS Data Quality report. This report will help you identify any issues with data completeness and timeliness, which can have broad implications for overall data quality and thus can be a useful place to start. 

2. Establish Baseline, Set Goals, Determine Timeline

Once you know what outcomes or data elements you want to include in your initial data quality efforts, run report(s) to determine what your data currently look like and establish a baseline. This is a critical step that will help you measure (and celebrate!) your achievements as you improve beyond this baseline.

After establishing your baseline, the next step is determining the standard you want to achieve. Is there a threshold your program needs to cross in order to secure funding or receive incentive payments? Have your funders set contractual obligations you need to meet? If so, these are probably your top priority. If you don't have such expectations, you may wish to aim for our community standards around data quality, which can be found in our Continuous Data Quality Improvement Plan.

The last piece is deciding on a timeline for achieving your goal. Establishing a data quality plan isn't a "set it and forget it" operation. It takes time and effort to improve data quality. When establishing a timeline, set moderate goals that allow your agency to see and build on progress, but that are actually achievable given the many other competing priorities staff are managing. That said, don't aim too low. It's best to identify a date by which you want to achieve your goal and work backwards to set incremental goals along the way.

3. Determine Roles and Responsibilities

Different staff will play different roles in any data quality effort and it's important to establish those early so that staff are aware of expectations and know who to come to when they have questions. HMIS Leads may be responsible for running the reports to check data quality and may be the ones championing a data quality improvement plan. Agency leadership may set goals and determine benchmarks. Program staff may work with HMIS Leads and agency leadership to identify programmatic changes that may improve data quality.

4. Identify Steps to Improve Data, Review Metrics Regularly, and Evaluate

Once the structure of the plan (scope, goals, timeline, responsibilities, etc.) has been defined, the next step is to put the plan in place. Work with agency stakeholders to identify issues that may be impacting data quality and/or ideas that might improve data quality. Make changes as needed to address these issues, and then evaluate the results. Using the same reports used to establish the baseline, make a plan to re-run them regularly to see how the data are changing and to determine next steps.

Data Quality Plan Best Practices

To ensure your data quality plan is a success, we recommend the following best practices:

  • Make sure you have the right tools - Do you have the reports you need to identify data quality issues? Can you dig into the data and find what you need? Feel like the data is out there but not sure how to get at it? Reach out to the HMIS System Administration team for ideas.
  • Get leadership involved - Any data quality plan will be much more successful with buy-in from agency leadership. Present data in accessible, appealing ways and tie the metrics into your agency's mission.
  • Make sure everyone else has the right tools - Do staff who are working to improve data quality have access to what they need? Training in order to understand how and why to answer certain questions? Context to help clarify why this is important? Appropriate technology to enter data efficiently? Ways to check their own progress and see metrics moving?
  • Incorporate data into regular meetings - Keep pushing the conversation about data quality at every opportunity. Make it a standard agenda item at regular meetings and entice others to get more engaged by sharing interesting charts and statistics they may not have seen.
  • Incentives/rewards/recognition - As your data quality plan progresses, be sure to celebrate each milestone or benchmark as you achieve them. Even if you don't achieve your benchmarks, take the opportunity to recognize any achievements and make sure all stakeholders are aware of what has been accomplished. Knowing that the work involved is paying off is key to keeping people engaged in the process.

Report Spotlight: [DQXX-103] Monthly Staff Report

The Monthly Staff Report provides three categories of information: 

  • General data quality and timeliness
  • User activity (including the number of clients that each staff member worked with during the time frame of report) 
  • Data quality by data element (e.g. Date of Birth, Race, Ethnicity, Veteran Status, etc.) for all clients served

Delivered to each agency each month...

This report is automatically emailed directly to your agency lead on the 15th of each month. It comes from "" with the subject (updated to the current month and year): HMIS: September 2018 Agency Staff Participation. Users can also run the report directly from the report library (see steps below).

The [DQXX-103] Monthly Staff Report allows you to easily answer questions such as:

  • Are there any staff accounts that should be deactivated due to inactivity and/or employee turnover? (If yes, contact the Helpdesk to deactivate user accounts.)
  • Are the data quality and timeliness scores/% within acceptable ranges or getting better over time? If not, where do we need to focus our efforts to improve data quality?

To run the [DQXX-103] Monthly Staff Report:

  1. Log in to Clarity Human Services and navigate to the Report Library (Reports under the Launcher menu in the upper right corner).
  2. Locate [DQXX-103] Monthly Staff Report under the Email Reports section.
  3. Choose the starting date and ending dates for the desired data range.
  4. Under Report Output Format select Web Page, PDF or Excel (for many reports, choosing Web Page will allow you to click an aggregate number and automatically open up the list of clients that make up that number.)
  5. Click the OK button.

Upcoming Events


The October Performance Management Work Group and the HMIS Agency Administrator meeting will be held back-to-back on Thursday, Oct 4:

  • 1:30-2:30pm: Performance Management Work Group
  • 2:30-3:30pm: HMIS Agency Administrator Meeting

Location: Sobrato Conference Center, 600 Valley Way, Room 1, Milpitas, CA 95035
Dial-in option here

Dates and locations for all 2018 Work Group and Agency Administrator meetings are listed on the OSH website.

HMIS and VI-SPDAT Trainings:

Data Literacy Institute Workshops:

Agency Staff Track:
  • How to Request Data | Nov 7, 1-2:30pm | Register: In person or Dial-in
  • Statistics, Charts, and Graphs | Feb 12, 9:30-11:30am | Register: In person only
Agency Manager Track:
Questions? Your HMIS Administrator is happy to help.
Phone: 408.596.5866 x2

© 2018 Bitfocus, Inc., or its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
Clarity Human Services is a product of Bitfocus.


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