Human Services leaders have long recognized the bio-psycho-social intersection of health and human services in vulnerable populations, the major consumers of government programs. A significant number of people served in Human Services programs are also covered by government health plans, like Medicaid and CHIP. Like healthcare, the nation’s Human Services System is on an unsustainable course of rising costs and growing populations, aggravated by a weak economy that cuts resources even while overwhelming the safety net.
Integrating healthcare and human services plays a key role in lifting people out of poverty, improving health and enhancing employment possibilities for the people served by both systems. A new body of knowledge generated within the past ten years indicates that improved care and service coordination and timely access to critical information for decision making across the Health and Human Services Systems has proven to produce better outcomes for the individuals coming to the health and human services doors. When integrated, both systems are able to efficiently transition consumers to the right level of service and reduce returns, which, in turn, reduce the cost to the state both in the short- and long term. Better outcomes mean healthier, safer, more stabilized individuals and families with a better chance of sustainable independence from government services and long-term personal success.
A robust, integrated Health and Human Services enterprise is possible through modern information technology and should be the hallmark of the modern consumer experience. Aligning a Human Services business model of shared services, streamlined business functions, interoperable information systems, care coordination, relationship management, and outcomes reporting with the new Health System experience is essential to achieving the desired improved outcomes for individuals and cost savings for the state. That alignment begins with envisioning the Human Services System of the future, and planning for the connectivity to healthcare now.
New time-limited federal funding encourages states to plan and develop system connectivity between healthcare and human services. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 provides significant resources for states to reengineer business processes and embrace 21st century technology to create a modern marketplace for health insurance and health information management. In August 2011, the federal Administration enacted an exception to federal funding rules to encourage states to leverage ACA resources to develop information linkages between their Health and Human Services Systems. This means that state Human Services leaders now have access to ACA planning and implementation resources to initiate the development of connectivity to the Health Services systems in their states. The nature of these time-limited funds drives a sense of urgency to begin the process now.
Prepared September 30, 2011 by:
Cari DeSantis, Human Services Consultant