What is an HMIS?
All state and federally funded Ohio BoSCoC homeless projects must use the Ohio BoSCoC Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) to maintain participant and project-level data. The only exception to the HMIS participation requirement is for domestic violence victim services providers, which are prohibited from entering data into HMIS and must instead use a comparable secure database.
HMIS data can be used to understand the size, characteristics, and needs of the homeless population in the Ohio Balance of State. The HMIS used by the Ohio BoSCoC is called ServicePoint and will soon be called Community Services. The Ohio BoSCoC HMIS is a valuable resource due to its ability to integrate data across projects in our CoC.
Policies and Procedures
All Ohio BoSCoC homeless projects participating in HMIS must abide by the Ohio BoSCoC Policies and Procedures Manual, which outlines the CoC’s policies related to maintaining system security and participant confidentiality, as well as the CoC’s processes for complying with federal regulations. This documents can be found on the Policy and Standards portion of COHHIO’s HMIS site. You may also use that page to submit HMIS questions to our HelpDesk.
Client acknowledgment and consent forms must be completed with each individual or household accessing services before any information is entered into the Ohio BoSCoC HMIS. Consent forms should be stored in a secure place. If services are provided to clients over the phone, verbal consent is permitted. Sample written and verbal acknowledge and consent forms are available on our HMIS Site in the Forms section.
Privacy and Security
HMIS User Licensing
All HMIS End Users will be trained in appropriate and accurate procedures for entering data into HMIS. If your agency has indicated that you will need HMIS access, you must attend a New User Training and complete an End User Agreement before being issued an HMIS license.
Each year in June, HMIS Users are asked to renew their user agreements by passing a quiz about security, policies, and data quality.
Personally Identifying Information
Personally Identifying Information (PII) is information maintained by or for a member of the Ohio BoSCoC or other Covered Homeless Organization about a homeless client or homeless individual which directly or indirectly identifies a specific individual. Examples of PII include birthdate, name, and social security number.
A client’s PII may be disclosed in order to provide or coordinate services to an individual. Aside from coordinating services, client information cannot be shared unless in response to a lawful court order, court-ordered warrant, subpoena or summons issued by a judicial officer, or a grand jury subpoena. Agencies should contact the CoC Director at COHHIO before disclosing client information. Should a police officer request information about a client, information cannot be given unless ordered by one of the documents listed above.
It is not permitted that PII be emailed or shared digitally. It is important to remember not to screenshot in HMIS or email the HelpDesk a client’s name. A client’s HMIS Client ID number is a safe alternative.
Data Quality Standards
Data quality refers to the reliability and validity of client-level data collected in HMIS. It is measured by the extent to which the client data in the system reflects actual information in the real world. With good data quality, the CoC can “tell the story” of the population experiencing homelessness. The quality of data is determined by assessing certain characteristics about the data such as timeliness, completeness, and accuracy. In order to assess data quality, a community must first think about what data quality means and document this understanding in a data quality plan. Homeless projects must also comply with the Ohio BoSCoC Data Quality Standards, which outline expectations for ensuring that quality data is entered into and maintained in the HMIS. This document can be found on COHHIO’s HMIS site.
Timely data entry also ensures that the data is accessible when it is needed. All required data elements for each program type must be entered within five days (including weekends and holidays) of the client entering the program. Any client updates that occur during the program stay should be entered into HMIS within five days of data collection. Client records must be closed within five days of the client exiting the program.
Though both Data quality and project performance are monitored in the Ohio BoSCoC, it is important to understand the role of each. Data quality monitoring measures to what extent an agency’s data is accurate and complete. Project performance includes such measures as Exits to Permanent Housing, which tells us how many clients have positive housing outcomes after entering our system. A project can have complete and accurate data, but show poor outcomes for clients. Likewise, a project can have incomplete or inaccurate data, but excel in housing clients.
If you would like more information about your project’s data quality, you can find a report in ServicePoint’s Advanced Reporting Tool (ART) called Data Quality 1.
Entering data in ServicePoint can be intricate. Our HMIS Team has compiled a set of workflows to reference as you input data. Workflows can be found in the Workflows section of our HMIS site.
A number of HUD-required reports are contained in ServicePoint. The Ohio BoSCoC is in the process of transitioning away from using reports contained ServicePoint. The COHHIO HMIS team released custom reporting apps called R minor and R minor elevated . These apps were created with free and open source programming tools called R, RShiny, and RStudio. For more information about HMIS reporting, see our Reporting Overview Webinar.
HMIS User Training
If you have been asked by your supervisor or agency to attend an HMIS User training, please complete the form below. We ask that all new HMIS Users review all nine of the training buttons on our Training and Templates page before registering. See the COHHIO calendar for upcoming training dates.