Frequently Asked Questions
What is an integrated data system (IDS)?
An integrated data system (IDS) is a software application that collects, aggregates, maintains, stores, and reports data shared by multiple organizations that are working collaboratively. The ultimate goal of an IDS is to effectively integrate data, people, and processes across organizations to produce insight and intelligence that can be acted upon.
What types of data can end up in an integrated data system?
Virtually any type of data (or documents) can reside in an IDS. An individual’s demographic information, program-specific information, financial data, case notes, vital statistics, employment-related information, documentation (images) associated with an application, and more. There are very few limiting factors on what type of information can be stored in or linked to an IDS.
How can a sector benefit from using data aggregated in an integrated data system?
Using the human services sector to illustrate, data is typically maintained in isolated, disconnected silos, which inhibits care coordination for those obtaining service from multiple providers. Without access to integrated data, caregivers lack a complete picture of an individual or family’s situation. This leaves caregivers blind to a comprehensive view of all of the social determinants of health that may point to valuable information whichcould significantly change a person’s outcome.
The advantage of an integrated data system is that it provides care givers with better insight and answers, which helps them make more informed decisions and ultimately results in better outcomes for people receiving services.
What type of functionality is contained within an integrated data system?
Important functionality within an IDS includes:
- Automating intake
- Client referral
- Tracking an individual’s activity across programs & organizations
- Powerful ad-hoc reporting, filtering, and data visualization
- Case management
- Workflow automation
- Complex form development
- Integration with external data sources
- Activity logging & auditing
- Client portal
- Strong permission management
Why should a sector such as human services increase the use of integrated data systems?
Because individual organizations — and the sector as a whole — desperately need to improve service delivery and how care is coordinated. This cannot be accomplished without considerably more integrated data exchange, both within and between organizations. Some form of IDS is the vehicle to make this happen.
What is Altrulink?
Altrulink is both an integrated data system and a general approach from Novus Insight for collecting, aggregating, sharing, and reporting data owned by one or more organizations. The technology and the approach behind the system hold particular appeal to organizations in need of a solution they can roll out quickly and inexpensively — one where complexity is minimized, self-serviceability is high, scalability can be easily achieved, and flexibility is paramount.
Who is Altrulink geared toward?
Users of the system are predominantly service providers, nonprofit program participants, funders, and local government.
What makes Altrulink different from other products and services on the market?
Altrulink is designed and positioned to sit in the middle between custom-developed software and commercial off-the-shelf software, offering the best of both worlds. It is a highly configurable system for use by organizations with unique process flows and data requirements, which off-the-shelf tools rarely address well without the need for time-consuming and expensive customization efforts.
How flexible is Altrulink? Is it customizable?
All facets of Altrulink have been designed to be very customizable. Also, an in-house developer or third-party programmer is not needed to actively support platform customization and modifications on an ongoing basis. Non-technical people can do much of the work themselves with a small amount of training. This keeps costs down and allows for changes to be made quickly.
Is Altrulink easy to use?
Yes. Altrulink is an intuitive, user-friendly, web-based application. Accessible from desktops or mobile devices, it can be used and administered after just a small amount of training. This can be especially beneficial for organizations that experience a lot of employee turnover.
What kind of support is available for Altrulink users?
We have a help desk located in East Hartford, CT and web-based training for administrators. The help desk (Tier 1 support) is co-located with the Novus Application Development team (Tier 2 support). We also provide video training, video instruction that is embedded in the application, and an online end-user guide accessible from any page within Altrulink.
How is the pricing for Altrulink determined?
We look at each client situation independently and determine pricing based on cost related to several variables:
- Amount of assessment effort to define exactly what is needed, if any customization to the core system is required (e.g. feature added), and the complexity of implementation (acceptance testing, training, data migration from legacy system, etc.)
- Development time to configure the system, build any forms, create workflows, etc.
- The level of ongoing administrator and end-user support needed
How does Altrulink keep data private and secure?
Altrulink is designed for role-based access and data sharing — measures that are applied to all areas of the system, down to the field level within records. Furthermore, the core data architecture’s design adheres to requirements and recommendations contained in standards such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
Does Altrulink share my data?
Only users of Altrulink can share data, if authorized. Novus never shares and never sells Altrulink data of any kind with third parties. The system contains a sophisticated permissions management feature that governs who has access to what data. User permissions are overseen by the program administrator or, in the case of multiple organizations, designated program administrators from organizations that have established data sharing agreements.
How does Altrulink maintain data integrity?
Altrulink maintains data integrity in several ways:
- Duplicate data is removed during the import process.
- Backups are taken continuously, and the data is stored in multiple locations.
- A least privilege model is in place as one of the access control measures.
- Every event is logged (i.e., when any record is created, deleted, read, or modified).
- Every event is aligned to a user and time stamped to verify the event timing
Who is Novus Insight?
Novus is a technology services and data solutions firm with 50+ employees, headquartered in East Hartford, CT. We were a wholly-owned subsidiary of the 501 (c)(3) nonprofit Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology until 2020, and we are now an independent, for-profit company that hasn’t forgotten its nonprofit roots.
Why did Novus develop Altrulink?
Working closely with funders, human services organizations, and local government agencies for over 10 years, we witnessed constant frustration on everyone’s part due to lack of access to data, inability to manage critical data, and difficulty measuring impact. We saw first hand, for example, how many problems grantees were having with collecting, aggregating and interpreting data, not to mention a myriad of funder reporting challenges. These problems became exponentially worse when external management of the data was involved (funders, referring agencies, government entities, etc.) It was obvious to us that the whole process of care coordination was disjointed, inefficient and badly in need of the sort of structure an integrated data system provides.
By offering Altrulink, Novus has expanded on our mission of being a purpose-driven organization, through a solution that helps solve serious societal problems. Mismanaging critical data in the human services sector negatively impacts the lives of real people. We hope to lessen the frequency of these negative impacts by making Altrulink available at an affordable rate to organizations that will benefit from it.