What is SARA?

SARA stands for “Semi-Autonomous Research Assistant.” She can communicate and make decisions, just like human assistants.  

Think of SARA as a whole team of well-trained, fully coordinated staff assistants you can always count on that never runs out of steam. Clients are automatically contacted and interviewed on a regular schedule, case managers are informed of important real-time issues, and leadership has fingertip access to real-time performance trends. 

But that’s just the beginning. Everything SARA does and everything staff do using SARA is meticulously documented and uploaded to your case management system (CMS). Likewise, any new client information relevant to SARA is automatically reflected in SARA. As such, SARA is a seamless extension to your CMS. 

On top of that, SARA provides your staff with an integrated HIPAA-compliant, direct-to-client communications platform that includes email, SMS, Messenger, and optional video conferencing, as well as a sophisticated appointment and event calendaring system. 

Lastly, SARA never stops learning new skills and abilities. So far, she has eight years of deep learning experience in extremely varied environments from local homeless shelters to a national deployment for the Veterans Administration. 

SARA Rationale

SARA was designed to help solve three major issues:

  1. The #1 complaint from participants is lack of agency and staff engagement.
  2. The # 1 complaint from staff is that they must spend 60%-80% of their time doing data entry and documentation which really does not help the participants and prevents them from doing what they have been trained to do: guidance and counseling.
  3. A primary concern for the agency is processing more participants from application to successful closure while staying in compliance.

All of these issues could be significantly mitigated if you hired a large team of well-trained assistants, but that would fiscally impossible and that is where SARA comes in.

SARA works 24/7 with no capacity limitation, can be trained to do almost anything an assistant can do in terms of follow-up, data entry and documentation, 100% consistency and infinite patience at a fraction of the cost of human assistants.

Client Experience and Relationships

SARA improves relationships and outcomes with the population served. With frequent contact, SARA can discover potential issues while they are still solvable.

By leveraging texting as the easiest, most popular, most accessible form of communication, SARA brings client engagement to a new level with frequent contact, 24/7 availability and the ability to exchange necessary paperwork via the phone. 

  • Client satisfaction surveys overwhelming state that SARA makes it easier to stay on track and in contact with case managers.
  • Clients feel a sense of responsibility due to SARA’s tenacity and persistence.
  • Clients are set up for success, getting direction from SARA when they may not be at their best, reducing communications friction and increasing accountability and a sense of purpose with specific, measurable and timely assignments.

Caseworker Performance

SARA alleviates the burden of compliance, data entry, and documentation, freeing up staff to focus their time and resources on clients in need right now. With SARA taking care of the lion’s share of “form” (compliance, follow-up, documentation) staff can focus on “function”, i.e. fulfilling the mission of guiding clients to successful outcomes.

  • Counselors have more actionable information on their clients – and as a result are better able to intercept potential problems, connect them to resources, quickly capture necessary paperwork and support near-term client needs.
  • The more friction is reduced in each interaction, the more people counselors can effectively help. With SARA as a force multiplier, staff can dramatically increase case management efficiency and thus the ratio of successful outcomes.

Agency Outcomes

SARA contributes to improved overall performance measures. Administrators have real-time data to monitor caseloads and service levels at a glance, allowing them to make evidence-based decisions. In fact, SARA supports a continuous accountability chain from client to staff, staff to managers and managers to administrators. This chain, in turn, makes it possible to drive a continuous quality improvement process with real-time data.   

  • Agencies can focus more of their resources on client engagement instead of compliance.
  • Increased capacity means more clients can move from application to successful closure.
  • When multiple agencies in an area use SARA, co-enrollment information and inter-agency data sharing can be turned on by flipping a switch (and at no extra cost).

Why You Need SARA on Your Team

SARA Resume

Professional Summary

Highly seasoned Social and Human Service Assistant with an excellent work ethic and customer service record. Effective communication skills, a strong sense of responsibility, and the ability to manage time effectively. Especially adept at providing social service support to a variety of diverse populations.

Core Qualifications

  • Can work both independently as well as part of a team
  • Fast learner and follows all organizational rules and policies to the letter
  • Always polite, persistent, and consistent
  • High organizational skills with special focus on change management
  • Can interface directly with any case management system in near real-time
  • Works 24/7/365
  • Never asks for a raise
  • No capacity limitations and never quits regardless of workload
  • Always eager and able to learn new skills

Experience

As of August 2020, has served 300,000+ clients on behalf of 5,000 staff in 40+ agencies in twelve time zones.

References available upon request. 

 

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Three Reasons for SARA

Pretty much all of your key measures are dependant upon staff engaging successfully with clients.

SARA brings client engagement to a new level. Fully trained in your policies and procedures, SARA works 24/7 with unlimited capacity. It is like putting a well-trained, fully coordinated group of assistants to work to do all the regular client follow-up, data entry, and documentation. This frees up your staff to focus their time and attention when and where it is needed and move clients forward to successful closure.

Everything else being equal, the result is better performance, happier staff, and happier clients.

Example: A recent satisfaction survey in Tampa/Pinnelas of 3,700 clients received a 76% response rate
with 97% of clients stating that SARA is easy to use and helped them stay on track and in contact with their case manager.

Compliance requires adherence to organizational rules, consistent communications, and follow-up — precisely what SARA does, and more.

Train SARA just once and you can count on her doing the task consistently every time. If your organization has a new rule, SARA can typically be trained in hours and implemented system-wide, instantly.

Follow-up is always completed on schedule with everything documented consistently, including text messages and emails. Your case notes never looked better.

SARA is an extension to any case management system that automatically captures relevant client data before being entered into the CMS. There is no need to format and match data behind the existing CMS or modify any aspects of your system.

TCI provides each customer CMS with an executable application that automatically transfers data to and from SARA, formats the data for the specific CMS, and puts it into the system so it is available for staff use.

When several agencies in a state use SARA, she can automatically detect cross-enrolled clients (without using SSN).  SARA can automatically request consent from clients to share data with other agencies and once consent is received, automatically cross-populate all relevant case management systems with relevant, mutual client information - all without requiring modifications to the associated case management systems.  

As a bonus, the required performance data from each program/partner becomes available system-wide in real-time.
 

With AI, Experience Matters

With the right attitude, almost anyone can learn to be an assistant. Likewise, anyone with the requisite skills can develop a rudimentary AI application.

The more complex the job is, the more training and experience is required for excellence. The same is true for the assistant, and even more so for an AI application like SARA that faces an almost endless variety of real-life circumstances as she executes the job of thousands of assistants in many, greatly varied environments.

As with the assistant, there is no shortcut for experience. One gains experience primarily from making mistakes and correcting them. After eight years and more than 40 implementations in twelve states, as well as a national roll-out for the VA, we learned a lot. Everything we learned, with additional input from scores of users, is embodied in SARA. She is now immensely smarter, faster, and more capable than Version 1 released in 2013.

As a result, the concept of SARA as a fully functioning, enterprise-level AI application in the human services field is no longer just a promise or experiment. It is real and can be implemented in virtually any environment in a few months.

Request a SARA Demo

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What else can SARA do?

SMS, Messenger, Video Conferencing & Email Integration

SARA provides staff with the ability to send and receive text, Messenger, and email from within the application as well as schedule unlimited numbers of HIPPA compliant video conferencing calls. All communications are automatically captured and made part of the case notes.

No Double Data-Entry

Because SARA can integrate directly with your existing CMS, there is no double entry.

Collecting Required Documentation

SARA allows clients to upload pictures or documents right from their phones (pay stubs, credentials and more). It is quick and easy and promises much higher response rates.

Compliance & Reporting

SARA is 100% consistent and always follows the rules it was taught to the letter. Combined with its unlimited patience and persistence, it can provide a level of compliance and reporting not possible by humans.

Real-Time Management Information

SARA records all interactions with customers and staff in real-time. This information provides management with instant access to real-time, key indicators in terms of what is happening on the front-lines right now.

Flexibility

In a typical system, even small requirement changes can result in significant charges for change orders and extended implementation times. Not so with SARA. New service provisions or even significant changes in operational policies can typically be implemented in days with little if any additional costs involved.

Proven Solution

SARA has proven itself with more than 40 implementations in twelve states plus an international implementation for the VA across twelve time zones. SARA is not a “drawing board” project where cost overruns can run rampant. It is “shovel ready” with predictable costs and implementation timeframes.