On Tuesday, March 26, we held our very first customer webinar, "Leading Change: How Information Systems Manager Eric Alter Strengthened Key Stakeholder Relationships - with His Apps." During the webinar, Eric explained the challenges he had due to disparate systems and spreadsheets, what led him to QuickBase, and showed some of the QuickBase apps he built at The New York Foundling that:
Eric answered attendees' questions during the live event, but was unable to answer all of them so we've included those in the list below.
Q: You mentioned that you were able to invert your already generated spreadsheets into QuickBase, is that correct?
Eric: Yes, QuickBase enabled me to import the spreadsheets I had already been using directly into the platform. There are also other ways to get started, such as utilizing a pre-made template or customizing however you like from scratch.
Q: Did you have any challenges getting external gov agencies to use the system? Where there any security obstacles?
Eric: Once we showed them what we could do and how easy it was to fill out a form that would send an email notification to us, we didn't encounter any obstacles. They were used to emailing us about having a new client and if we would consider taking them on, but emails would get lost and we'd end up treasure hunting for the information. Now there's no muss, no fuss. They absolutely loved it.
We're currently running in the Blue Sky program a randomized clinical trial here in New York to see if a particular therapy that we're doing is working. That had to pass all kinds of mustard to be seen as a legitimate randomized trial. We showed them the security that QuickBase enables you to perform and they had no problem, "this will work just great."
Q: What is the format of subscription reports when received by the recipients? Can you do it as a PDF?
Eric: The ones who have access to QuickBase receive an email with a link to a report directly in QuickBase. For some of the government and private agencies, who don't have access, in just a couple of clicks we'll create an Excel spreadsheet and email it to the agency who needs it on that day.
Q: You mentioned you created a number of apps to support your project. Are the various apps linked to each other, if so, how are you using linking to further enhance your data analysis and reporting?
Eric: They are not linked to each other, in that there are separate clients going through different therapies, so generally they are not linked. I am working on a dashboard to give some overall big picture of how we're doing with all the different apps. But basically there has been no real need to look at that big of a picture. The success of QuickBase is being able to look at all these tiny details so that what's happening in the Blue Sky program is very different from what is happening in a program we call Close to Home or Keys. There is no overlap in those, they are different clients, therapists, so there hasn't been a need to link them yet.
Q: Picking up on your comment about the overall dashboard development - how are you implementing that?
Eric: I'm talking to different QuickBase Solution Partners about it. While I'm familiar with databases, I'm not a hard core programmer so it's a bit more daunting. So I figure when you don't know how to do something, find someone who does.
Q: Are you using QuickBase in a mobile fashion? Tablets or smartphones?
Eric: Yes, very much so. With all the evidence-based programs, it's not a question of the family coming in to see a therapist at their office at a NY Foundling building. All these therapeutic sessions occur in the families' homes. They are out in the field. All of our therapists have wireless laptops, smartphones, iPads, etc. They are never here. The data is real-time or same day which is great.
Q: Do you backup your data using a different system than QB or do you rely on the native QB backup/redundancy as your continuity plan? If the former, what do you do use?
Eric: We rely on the QuickBase native redundancy and haven't had a need to go with anything external.
Q: One of the state's concerns around cloud computing and other mobile device/data use is confidentiality of legally-protected child welfare information. Who is "holding" the data? What security measures are in place for the database, devices, remote access?
Eric: Aside from password access to the system, we set access down to the most basic level, where specific users are only allowed to do specific things in specific fields, even if they have access to the system and even if they have been assigned a specific client or group of clients if they are the supervisor. No one can delete any record anywhere except for me and my IT QuickBase partner, Brian Acevedo. We use groups and roles extensively so if anyone reports a lost or stolen device it takes less than a minute to deny them access to the entire system. Finally, myself and Brian get a QuickBase alert when any record in any application is modified so we track daily if any change looks unusual.
QuickBase: We have a number of controls, covering the physical security of our data servers, encryption of customer data, and other measures to insure the security of QuickBase applications. Each year we undergo a 3rd party audit of our security practices.
Q: Have you developed a Web interface or you use directly the QuickBase as it is?
Eric: We're using QuickBase just as it is, natively. We've had no need to develop another Web interface. Everyone really likes QuickBase.