Automating Human Service Practice Expertise. ASAP: The Automated Screening and Assessment Package

Susan Millea, University of Texas at Austin; Mary Anne Mendall, Mendall Associates

Though the technology has been available for some time, there are few applications of knowledge-based systems (KBS) technology being used in human services. Those systems which have been developed have focused on the representation of complex and sometimes conflicting federal, state and local policies and procedures for service delivery. While the Automated Screening and Assessment Package (ASAP) contains this type of written knowledge, it goes beyond this in the use of AI knowledge engineering methods to capture and represent the more elusive. unformalized and mostly unwritten "practice wisdom" of expert practitioners. The knowledge domain is extremely complex. It involves assessing basic human needs. Knowledge engineering required the participation of multiple experts from varied disciplines and input from potential users and service consumers. Experts had to reach consensus about what knowledge the system should contain to help non-expert practitioners perform holistic assessments of the non-clinical needs of persons with severe mental impairment living in the community. ASAP is being successfully used in Texas. Innovative techniques were also used in the evaluation of ASAP in practice. The research design yielded measurable results demonstrating that use of the tool helped non-experts to approach expert level performance.

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