Smarter Cities: How to Transform Social Programs Through Data and Analytics (Recap)

“Analytics allows us to find and pinpoint the proverbial needle in the haystack,” Shelley Mills-Brinkley, Global Business Services Partner and Worldwide Integration Executive for Cúram Software.

Through leveraging data and analytics, IBM has created Smarter Care, which connects government, social programs, life sciences, health plans and providers to provide the best care to each citizen. Smarter Care takes advantage of new and existing data sources to pinpoint consistent and optimized outcomes and lower costs. Most importantly, the technology gives agencies a holistic view of a citizen through gathering data across government departments. GovLoop and IBM put together a free online training to learn how to leverage data to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your social programs.

Be sure to look at the resources shared and discussed in our training here.

For now, here are the insights our panelists shared.

Smarter Technology, Smarter Care: An IBM Perspective

Shelley Mills-Brinkley, IBM Global Business Services Partner and Worldwide Integration Executive for Cúram Software, discussed the factors that drove IBM’s Smarter Care technology and what the software has already accomplished. First, Mills-Brinkley pointed out that the most important development has been the data revolution. “We have access to unprecedented amounts of data,” she said. “Never before have we had data this rich in variety, in velocity and in quality.” The impetus to use that data for Smarter Cities is based on three factors, demographics, a new focus on the individual, and economic forces.

Globally, there is a demographic shift that is leaving many countries with a growing elderly population that needs to be cared for. However, government and employers are focusing improving care for citizens of all ages. Today, organizations are looking at health care and wellness on an individual basis, often creating incentive systems to encourage individuals to adopt a health lifestyle and seek preventative care. Mills-Brinkley noted, “The current trend of rising costs that are not tied to quality increases is not sustainable.” In response to this environment, IBM created software that begins with a foundation of data collection and deploys a strategy of analytics and cognitive computing, that results in the improved coordination of care and outcomes.

The Take-Away: Due to demographics, individualization of care, and economic imperatives, software that provides a holistic view of a citizen is essential to improve care. IBM is revolutionizing service delivery through software that makes use of rich and plentiful data by sharing it across sectors and tailoring it to individual needs. “None of this progress could be possible without the right technology,” Mills-Brinkley concluded.

Remember the “Human” in Health and Human Services

Daniel Stein, Managing Partner at Stewards of Change focused on the importance of human services in Smarter Care. “Four out of five physicians agree that a patient’s social service needs are more important than their healthcare needs,” Stein said. Agencies need to ensure that human services and health services are addressed together for each individual. Stein shared an example of a woman who had diabetes. She was also homeless and therefore received services from housing, homelessness and food and nutrition agencies. However, those agencies were not coordinating with her health care provider through Medicaid and not providing her the resources to implement her personalized health plan. “In this case, the coordination needed could have been addressed with technology,” said Stein. Stein used the word “interoptimability” as his philosophy: collaboration among agencies that creates the optimal outcome for citizens.

The Take-Away: Do not forget the importance of human services in improving population health. Statistical studies and caregivers agree that social factors are more important for public health than health care. Stein argues that this means smarter care must successfully integrate healthcare agencies, such as Medicare, with social service programs, such as SNAP and WIC..

Case Study: Minnesota Department of Human Services

Jennifer Trombley, Business Enterprise Architect at the Minnesota Department of Human Services headed her agency’s efforts to deploy an analytics-based, collaborative approach to human services. “The theory is thrilling, but there are a lot of rocks in the road to implementation,” said Trombley. Some of these challenges include siloed systems, privacy and security rules, hard to learn systems, and difficulty in focusing on outcomes. The department was able to overcome some of these challenges by aligning system modernization goals with business goals. This alignment ensured that Trombley was able to secure a separate grant for the process. Trombley facilitated collaboration between agencies by keeping agencies in the loop on all budget and funding proposals before they were adopted. In addition, the department worked with a vendor to work on comprehensive modernization, something Trombley recommends as a best practice. “Don’t start from scratch. You don’t have to. We used Curam software to begin the process and found it very helpful,” said Trombley.

The Take-Away: The Minnesota Department of Human Services faced challenges when adopting an analytics based approach to their mission. However, Trombley was able to address these challenges by emphasizing the cost-saving aspects of the process to secure funding. In addition, Trombley recommends working with a vendor and purchasing “off the shelf” software to make the process easier. To avoid territorial disputes that are inherent in collaboration, make sure each agency has a voice in decision-making.

The IBM Analytics Solution Center (ASC) is part of a network of global analytics centers that provides clients with the analytics expertise to help them solve their toughest business problems. Check out their Analytics to Outcomes group on GovLoop.

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