44th Annual ISM Conference advises states not to “reinvent the wheel”

Deltek Analyst Amanda White reports.

The 44th Annual IT Solutions Management for Human Services (ISM) Conference was held August 14-17, 2011, at the Hilton hotel in Austin, Texas. The theme of this year’s conference was “Enabling Change: Deep in the Heart of Technology.” The conference, sponsored by ISM, an affiliate of the America Public Human Services Association (APHSA), brought together a variety of state representatives, vendors, and other industry leaders in health and human services. The goal of these conferences is to create a stimulating and engaging environment for federal, state, local and private sector stakeholders to discuss emerging issues, trends, and how technology can be utilized to streamline business processes in health and human services agencies.

The conference consisted of numerous plenary sessions, panel discussions and breakout sessions from several vendors. Attendees were also able to explore the extensive vendor exhibit where private sector partners displayed and discussed the latest information technology products, solutions and services in the health and social services arena. Topics of discussion at this year’s ISM conference included health care reform, interoperability and integration, innovative service delivery solutions, cloud computing, cybersecurity, health insurance exchanges, workforce strategies, streamlining services, and many more. The central theme of this year’s conference was learning from other states and leveraging existing technologies in a way that streamlines business processes and improves customer experience.

Simply put, states should not be looking to “reinvent the wheel.” Instead, they should be looking to other states for ways they can leverage existing architecture to comply with new requirements trickling down from health care reform. With looming deadlines, tight budgets and never-ending requirements, states are really looking for infrastructure that is reliable, modular and flexible. For instance, when it came to setting up a health insurance exchange, Utah did not look to reinvent the wheel. Cindy Layton, information technology manager for the Utah Department of Technology Services, explained that when Utah needed to set up a health insurance exchange, state officials consulted with insurers, brokers and other stakeholders who knew about the business space. Today, Utah’s landing page leverages private-partner technology and has links to other websites and system portals in the health insurance exchange market. The state built minimal infrastructure with the exchange and has been successfully facilitating data share.

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