How government agencies are rising to the challenge of COVID-19
As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc, agencies are working quickly to deliver the health and human services people need most
The world is grappling with unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Federal, state and local authorities are scrambling to help ease the effects of this crisis for the citizens they serve. Even as the duration of it remains uncertain, it is clear to me that state health and human service agencies are making heroic efforts to help people get back on their feet.
The federal government declared a national state of emergency1 and all 50 states have made some type of emergency declaration, which enables governors to access additional resources to meet citizens’ needs. States are responding in several ways, including:
Providing emergency assistance
COVID-19 has impacted every industry, which has triggered historic legislation to support American workers with paid leave, food assistance and unemployment benefits.2 State governments, such as Washington3, New York4 and Colorado5, have already begun putting new emergency unemployment solutions in place. Social Program Management teams must act quickly to serve people suffering economic distress.
How we can help: IBM Social Program Management can help agencies deploy emergency support in rapidly changing environments. Multiple states have deployed Social Program Management in the aftermath of crises to help support unemployment programs.
Focusing on hot spots
Some states and counties are focusing on hot spots to manage COVID-19’s spread.6 Citizens in these areas have a heightened need for services, such as food, medication, clinical visits, home care, transport, counseling, income support and more. Health and human services agencies need to be able to assess individual needs in these areas, create plans to help address them, document progress, confirm services with community providers, track populations beyond the containment period and report population trends.
How we can help: IBM Watson Health solutions, such as Watson Care Manager and state analytics, are designed to help identify higher risk populations. For example, Sonoma County officials used Watson Care Manager to help coordinate care and respond to needs of its homeless population.
With “social distancing” and “shelter-in-place” directives in place, it is more important than ever to connect people and families to digital government services. State and local governments are looking for ways to engage citizens through personalized, citizen-centric digital applications.
How we can help: IBM Citizen Engagement can help agencies transform the experience of engaging with government. For example, New York City uses this solution to help connect its citizens with multiple social services – such as food, shelter and cash assistance – in one place.
From what I have seen, state governments are rising to the challenge of COVID-19 to serve their citizens. They are making the best of difficult, unstable circumstances with the goal of delivering what people and communities need. IBM Watson Health is here to assist agencies with identifying those most at risk, enrolling individuals in new benefit programs, managing resources for affected populations, and connecting individuals with community resources.