Establishing appropriate measures to evaluate the effectiveness of integration efforts is one of four key principles that underlie effective service integration initiatives.

At the outset, there are two critical things to remember about evaluation:

  • Evaluation is a process, not an event.
  • Evaluation is not about “success” or “failure” in the traditional sense – it is instead about figuring out what we are doing well and what we could be doing better.

Evaluation of human services integration is in its infancy. There is, as a result, little firm evidence to suggest what it is yielding in terms of firm results. Nevertheless, the benefits that service integration potentially offer make awfully good sense. As a result, we all have an opportunity here to make a major contribution to improved service and improved outcomes for the people we serve. By committing to evaluation of integration efforts, we can make a major contribution to our communities through identification of best practices and by determining whether or not the hoped-for outcomes of service integration can be achieved.

Evaluation at Two Levels

There are two levels at which evaluation of service integration efforts should be targeted:

  • First, evaluation of the service integration effort itself
  • Second, evaluation of the outcomes or results of service integration for a number of constituencies: the people who are served, the community, the system, the program and the staff who operate the program

Evaluation Dimensions

Evaluation can focus on a variety of things, including effectiveness (achievement of anticipated outcomes), economy (financial impact), efficiency (best use of resources) and efficacy (overall value of what is happening). Different audiences will have different needs in terms of what they are looking for from evaluation – keep this in mind.

Use an Outcomes-Based Planning Approach

Define your hoped-for outcomes early in your processes and then develop the strategies which you hope will yield those outcomes. Let anticipated outcomes define strategies, not the other way around. Set up your information and data collection processes to gather the information you feel you need to demonstrate (or not) the achievement of your earlier defined outcomes. Remember that you can use both qualitative and quantitative information and that you may need to be focused on both process and outcome. Set benchmarks and then, as appropriate, gather and analyze the information and data.

Ensure a Feedback Mechanism

Once a round of evaluation is completed, use the information to make informed choices about whether to tweak, alter, dramatically change or even stop an initiative.

Share with Others

This website provides a wonderful opportunity for us all to learn from each other. If you have initiatives that you have evaluated which show real promise, please contact Éilis Karry, OMSSA’s Policy Coordinator, at (416) 646-0514 or at jorr@linetap.com. We will arrange to get your information up on the website.

Find out more about:

  • Systems Thinking

Additional Information