Social Programs

Three government agencies you should be emulating

How agencies are successfully sharing information and creating new service delivery models

Perspectives on the 12th Annual Stewards of Change Symposium

Imagine an era where care providers have complete and actionable information at their fingertips. That time has come.

Today, HHS agencies understand that improving the management and outcomes of complex persons requires a holistic view of the individual or family. But many still follow a program-centric approach, resulting in operational silos that negatively impact outcomes and increase costs. The ability to share information and cooperate across program boundaries is an essential step in moving to a holistic, person-centered approach and the missing factor required to improve services and outcomes for clients.

Here are examples of a few agencies successfully sharing information and creating new service delivery models, despite the operational and technical barriers. These examples show how these agencies connect a greater portion of the HHS ecosystem and drive more informed decisions at the point of service.

Silicon Valley Regional Trust Data

Silicon Valley Regional Data Trust (SVRDT) has developed an information sharing environment to address educational disparities resulting from barriers to learning that occur beyond the school walls, which research has shown can (negatively) impact 70% of academic performance. SVRDT brings together public schools, health and human service and juvenile justice agencies to better support the children, families, and communities they serve. To support their mission, the SVRDT developed “Foster Vision,” an application that provides Probation and Child Welfare workers access to their respective children’s case files and caseloads at any time.

Originally a collaboration led by the Santa Clara County Office of Education with Probation and the Department of Children and Family Services, the shared information platform now extends across programs and across three counties: Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and San Mateo. This is especially important for a population that tends to cross county lines. The objective of the three organizations is to eliminate achievement gaps and promote continuous improvement for their students in the foster care or probation systems.

LA County

LA County is also overcoming the obstacles to information sharing through a series of data hubs integrating the various systems supporting county operations. Currently, the County is developing an application to provide Child Welfare investigators access to a 360-degree view of the person while in the field. A foundational step to their progress occurred in 2015 when the County approved the Multi-Disciplinary Team Protocol allowing Child Welfare investigators access to an extended set of information from across relevant agencies to support the investigation of alleged abuse or neglect.

San Diego County

The County of San Diego realized caseworkers and clients were ill-served by the siloed nature of their program data. Although the County Health and Human Services Agency was integrated in 1999, the program data continues to operate within siloed legacy systems. In many cases, caseworkers did not know if a client was receiving services from other programs. When clients required cross-program assistance, caseworkers did not always have all the information needed. To address these challenges, the County developed an information exchange portal, ConnectWellSD, to provide a single view of the client across healthcare, probation, mental health and social programs and support caseworker collaboration across programs.

Successful information sharing requires agencies to address operational and technical challenges, such as identity management, interoperability and data sharing. Although these challenges should not be underestimated, they are surmountable and can be addressed through various approaches based on the organization’s culture and available resources. LA County began with the infrastructure, creating a longitudinal view of the person across disparate systems which can be expanded and tailored for specific business use cases. San Diego County, on the other hand, began with the organizational challenges, creating an integrated HHS organization in 1999 before introducing a shared information and collaboration platform.

Regardless of the order, successful information sharing requires these three primary aspects:

  • Identity management
  • Interoperability
  • Data sharing controls

The third of which proves to be the most challenging but by no means insurmountable.

In each of these cases, the organizations focused on a defined use case that answered the question of what data will be shared with whom for what purposes.

When placed in terms of business needs and client outcomes, organizations are finding ways to overcome the policy challenges and change the conversation.  Learn how San Diego County did it: https://ibm.co/2jZsEEP

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