Reimagining the caseworker experience through co-creation and human-centered design

In an ever-evolving world, caseworkers need tools that streamline tasks, allowing them to spend less time on administrative work and more time with citizens.

By | 3 minute read | July 29, 2021

Female caseworker reviewing case documents

Imagine you’re a caseworker for a local government agency that helps deliver social program benefits to families in need. Your day-to-day tasks involve updating information on many of the hundreds of cases that are assigned to you, reviewing new applications for benefits, and ensuring that timely and accurate payments are delivered to individuals and families. In order to manage this workload, you need a case management system that is intuitive and easy to navigate, allowing you to spend more time with the individuals and families that you serve.

Through the Watson Health sponsor user program, the team was able to gain key insights into how caseworkers work and the daily struggles they face. These insights led to a redesign of the IBM Social Program Management platform, with enhancements that address caseworkers’ specific needs. The Watson Health team kicked off the collaborative sponsor user program and made sure the end-users were involved at every stage of the design process to ensure the upgrades would support their work and alleviate burdens.

This co-creation methodology enabled us to reimagine our IBM Social Program Management platform with caseworkers’ needs at the core. Through human-centered design and extensive interviews with stakeholders, our team identified three ways to improve caseworker productivity and accessibility so they can deliver benefits to their citizens faster.

See the new platform:

Efficient UI interactions to make finding information easier

We have leveraged IBM’s open source Carbon Design System to make it easier for caseworkers to read, navigate and understand information. The new responsive design preserves the caseworker experience across devices, enabling them to work wherever and whenever they need.

Overview cards to help caseworkers gain an understanding of the case

A centralized case overview brings the most important case details together into a single view, enabling caseworkers to quickly answer high-volume questions such as “What am I entitled to?” and “How much will I get paid?” Caseworkers will be able to intuitively access additional case details without needing to forage for information, leading to an 85% click reduction with an average of 44% in time savings.

AI-infused virtual assistant to find relevant information easier

Productivity is transformed with an AI-infused virtual assistant that supports caseworkers with process guidance and answers to complex questions, reducing reliance on experienced staff members and providing real-time training. Caseworkers can also use the virtual assistant to query for case-specific data, reducing the time required to find that information. This new capability is powered by IBM Watson Assistant, which, according to a recent independent study by Forrester Consulting, could reduce the number of questions that would typically go to an organization’s internal help desk agents by 40%.1

Caseworker feedback for this new feature has been overwhelmingly positive. One sponsor user stated: “[A virtual assistant] is an awesome idea. We spend time doing a lot of different things in our roles. Some actions we maybe do only once or twice a year. We will now be able to use the [virtual assistant] to remind us.”

Additionally, the sponsor user stated, “Post COVID-19, we have employed a lot more staff and they need more support, so using a [virtual assistant] tool like that to help them get up to speed is fantastic.”

Using Design Thinking, IBM has been able to build on our tradition of human-centered design so we can move faster and deliver solutions that solve pain points for caseworkers and citizens, time and time again. On behalf of the Watson Health design team, thank you to our sponsor users for collaborating and reimagining this solution with us. Through your willingness to co-create and your participation throughout the prototyping process, the redesigned platform increases caseworker efficiency and helps them be able to spend more time focusing on what matters most – improving lives.