OREGON COUNTY -- A new system will streamline the appointment system for Women, Infant Children (WIC) participants in Oregon County.
The Oregon County Health Department announced last week they have received additional funding to purchase an auto dialing, messaging and scheduling system.
The WIC program is a federally funded program that helps children, pregnant women and breast feeding women eat healthy.
To participate in the program families must meet certain income guidelines. A family of four in Oregon County can have an annual income of $37,000 and still be able to receive WIC benefits. Last year in the county 7,000 women, infants and children in Oregon County participated in the WIC program.
"WIC clinics all over the country have had positive results with a system like this," Oregon County Health Department Director Shiela Russell said.
The new system allows WIC clinics to better utilize and schedule their resources as well as improving the quality of care received by participants and reduce time waiting for those who forget their appointments.
"The project purpose will be to phase out manual/paper client scheduling and reminder/recalls and upgrade the technology to a computer based system of client services," Russell said.
The project will allow the WIC program to be more streamlined with current needs of the clinics. The local health department operates one full-time office at Alton and one part-time office at Thayer.
Russell said currently the WIC program uses the conventional mail system for reminders and recall of clients for WIC appointments. "This system takes our staff approximately 18-20 hours per month to complete," she said.
Russell said many times clients move without notice and the appointment cards that have been mailed to them are returned due to no forwarding address.
"We use a paper form of client scheduling for certifications, recertification and food instrument pick-up," Russell said.
She said with the new program reminders and recalls will be generated automatically at a designated time for WIC participants. Russell said the appointment program will allow the staff to schedule clients from any given work station without the hassle of writing all the needed information on a paper schedule sheet each time an appointment is made.
"Reports can be generated from this appointment program and the autodialer will also function using the data that is keyed into the system. The program will then keep the clients vital information stored in the system. It will store the information for future use in scheduling and recalling," she said.
Russell said this will cut back on the amount of staff time it takes to schedule, send reminders and recall clients for their appointments.
Each client who is provided services through the WIC program will be surveyed regarding the effectiveness of the new program. Russell said that information will be cross referenced with the reports that are generated by the program on a monthly basis to ensure it is properly functioning. Gaps in the system will be identified and addressed using these two means of evaluation.
Technical support will be available through the program staff maintenance agreement.
For more information about the WIC program in Oregon County call the Oregon County Health Department at 417-778-7450 or 417-264-3114.