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Government Health and Human Services: Visions, values and strategies for the future

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Technology has had a profound impact on the administration and delivery of health and human services programs. Landline telephones are one of the oldest forms of technology used to communicate with clients. More recently, the internet, email, telephone conferencing, video conferencing, mobile devices, and texting have transformed the way professionals communicate with clients and with each other.  For example, online mental health self-help groups began to appear in the early 1980s. By the late 1990s, groups of clinicians were creating internet companies and e-clinics that provided online counseling services. Now sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn enable various consumer groups, including people fighting addictions, to form online support groups with a worldwide reach.

Today, technology continues to transform the administration and delivery of health and social benefits and services. A 2016 online survey of US state Health and Human Services (HHS) thought leaders found that the top three technologies in use today by HHS organizations were electronic data management, customer service centers/call centers and consumer portals with online services. But with the exception of cloud computing, there was little evidence in the survey that health and human services programs were using or exploring the use of newer technologies like mobile or cognitive.

In Health and Human Services: Visions, values and strategies for the future, we asked our Watson Health subject matter experts to envision what health and human services programs will look like five or ten years from now. What new roles will technology play? How will agencies use technology to address their challenges and achieve their missions? Their answers may surprise you. Our hope is that their ideas will provide inspiration to think creatively about how health and social program services could be administered, delivered, measured and funded; and how they can continue to have a positive impact on citizens’ lives.
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