Friday, March 22 | Cause Connected, Netsmart Culture, Netsmart Life

Social Work Breaks Barriers

By Julie Ingram, VP, Client Development

Social workers are integral to healthcare service delivery. In fact, they are the largest group of mental healthcare providers in the U.S., practicing in all areas from policy to behavioral health to a variety of community agencies. You might see a social worker if you’re admitted to the emergency department of a hospital, or work alongside them at an addiction treatment center. Social workers even work in technology to improve population health––like me. I’m proud to be a social worker and to celebrate National Social Work Month here at Netsmart. 


So, what sets social workers apart from other human services professionals? For one thing, a social worker is trained to assess, plan, implement and evaluate social programs. Whereas a nurse might be focused on an individual’s physical health, social workers are trained to address the social environment–– the societal conditions people need to thrive. Often, this means working with underserved communities and standing up for marginalized people, but it can also mean focusing on populations to help them live better lives


For me, one of the most unique parts of being a social worker is that our entire profession is governed by a code of ethics. This means that even though I work at Netsmart now and am no longer practicing clinically, I am required to follow six basic values at all times. There are several other social workers at Netsmart, and I think they would agree with me that these values correspond closely with our Netsmart values. Here are a few ways I use my social work values in the work I do today.  

 

Service.  Social workers are required to use their talents to benefit the greater society. Netsmart explicitly promotes acts of service in their “Cause Connected” mission. Associates are given two days off every year to volunteer in the community. But it goes beyond company culture. I work to help county governments and provider organizations adopt solutions that can identify and track high-risk populations to provide preventive care. For me, this is all about serving the most vulnerable individuals.


Social Justice. Social workers are a voice for communities and populations who need to be heard. As I said, my work with high-risk populations (known as Social Determinants of Health) falls into this category. Another social justice cause that Netsmart helps advance is the use of technology to fight the opioid crisis. We partner with organizations all over the country, giving presentations and raising awareness for addiction treatment. Because opioid use disorder is often found in underserved areas, I consider our work on this issue an example of social justice. 


Dignity and Worth of the Person. Social workers pledge to treat every person with dignity and respect. Although Netsmart works with states, counties and provider organizations directly, I believe strongly in our solutions because they elevate the wellbeing of individuals. Whether that’s decreasing individual wait time for home visits, improving care for those in hospice or long-term care, or making sure providers have adequate information to treat the whole person, healthcare technology will always be about care first and technology second. 


I
mportance of Human Relationships. Social workers focus on community issues and strive to connect their clients to resources and support. We can’t agree enough––human relationships are the most important element in healthcare. That’s why we innovate solutions that allow clinicians to spend more time with their clients and individuals to stay more connected to their care. It’s also why we act as informal advisors or partners to our clients when trying to implement regulatory projects, meet accreditation standards or improve employee satisfaction. When you purchase a solution from Netsmart, that’s just the beginning. We promise to be advocates for you and your organization or state.


Integrity. Every social worker pledges to act in an ethical and responsible manner. This is woven into the culture at Netsmart. I also see it as part of the way we do business. Every IT company has a sales team, but Netsmart also has Client Alignment team members who are dedicated consultants. It wouldn’t be very ethical to sell technology and then disappear without making sure clients were happy with their purchase or knew how to optimize its use. We stand by the integrity of what we develop, and we want to ensure that we’re fulfilling our promises. 


Competence. It’s not enough just to have good intentions. You need expertise to be effective. Social workers dedicate themselves to a lifetime of learning and education, so they can be the best at what they do. As a social worker, I feel comfortable representing Netsmart, because the company has more than 50 years of experience in healthcare IT. Not only that, but we’ve also kept innovating and introducing the latest technology, like artificial intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Robotic Processing Automation (RPA), and so much more. Netsmart also listens to people like me with clinical backgrounds––in fact, there are quite a few social workers, therapists and nurses throughout our company. That’s a commitment to healthcare competence that I’m truly proud of.

 

Principles that empower people

The principles of social work follow members of our profession wherever our career paths take us. Whether we stay in the field or move outside of direct care, we’re able to use social work skills and values to create change in a variety of industries and settings. 


Social workers are smart, dedicated, strong, compassionate and change people’s lives. As we enter Social Work Month, I encourage you to learn more about the profession and the incredible work being done within your own community. Through their dedication and expertise, social workers continue to inspire hope and transform lives.

Meet the Author

Julie Ingram · VP, Client Development

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