Easing the Application Process via Database Engineering
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Easing the Application Process via Database Engineering

May 19, 2010

Benefits Data Trust (BDT) – a Philadelphia non-profit and one of 10 NCOA funded Benefits Enrollment Centers – knows that applying for benefits programs can be a time-consuming process. To ease the burden on both consumers and the staff assisting them, BDT developed a robust database that allows for efficient collection, storage, and protection of large amounts of data, as well as the transmission of applications to diverse agencies.

Who was the target audience?

People with Medicare who are potentially eligible for public benefit programs.

What did they do?

Benefits Data Trust created a database with the following functionalities:

  • Multiple application support. The database is designed to screen clients and store information for multiple benefits programs at one time. If a question appears on more than one benefit application, BDT staff members only need to ask it once and the database will display the answer for all relevant benefits.
  • Documentation storage and communications tracking. All supporting documentation and submission receipts can be saved so that applicants calling about missing documents can be helped by anyone answering the phone. The database also permits BDT staff to track communications such as follow-up letters and phone calls. The database can generate customized follow-up letters as well as track how long ago a request for further information was sent out.
  • Application submission. As programs permit, BDT can submit the applications directly on behalf of the clients. The database can produce applications in the formats required by the various administering agencies, which can be sent electronically, batched, or by mail.
  • Outreach and application tracking. The sophistication of the database allows BDT to track and analyze specific mailings, lists, outreach campaigns, and overall projects. In this way, BDT can examine the cost-effectiveness of their activities and use this information to shape future efforts.
    BDT staff emphasize that constructing a technical system such as theirs is a long-term investment, both in terms of time and financial commitment.  The database has been built up steadily over the past five years, with an investment of upwards of $750,000. Moreover, it is a dynamic, ever-evolving tool, with technical experts offering monitoring and technical support, and new fields, information and reports generated as needed. 

What was the result?

The functionality of the database has helped BDT to provide a seamless process for applicants to public benefits programs.  In their first year as a Benefits Enrollment Center, BDT submitted more than 48,000 program applications, worth over $119 million in benefits.  They continue to use the data generated to enhance their outreach and application assistance efforts.

For more information

Ginger Zielinskie
Benefits Data Trust
2 Logan Square, Suite 550
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 207-9100


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