Change is inevitable, and without a doubt, change is happening at lightning speed in the world of technology and Health and Human Services. For 50 years, the APHSA Information Technology Solutions Management for Human Services (ISM) Conference has provided opportunities for collaboration among federal, state and private sector partners. This year, there was a record-breaking attendance of 1,349 with attendees and presenters representing almost all 50 states from across the country. With a focus on best practices and new advancements in Information Technology, ISM is a meeting place that fosters engagement and creativity among IT vendors, federal policymakers, and our state and local partners.
With deadlines for state decisions related to the potential planning and implementation for a new Comprehensive Child Welfare Information Systems (CCWIS) looming on July 31, 2018, and the need to rapidly assess and determine whether to continue with end-to-end comprehensive Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information Systems (SACWIS) or transition to the new, more flexible and responsive case management structure, states must determine whether “To CCWIS or Not To CCWIS”. ISM provided many child welfare case management solutions for participants to view this year.
Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) technology and solutions were also high on the “need to see and evaluate” articulated by state and local attendees. Many participants also referenced the need for creative and cost-effective solutions to their inevitable expectation for workforce requirements to be more broadly applied across HHS programs, as well as the need to seek new modular solutions for both child support and Medicaid enrollment and eligibility systems as they replace antiquated enterprise systems.
From a funding perspective, federal policy representatives did not identify new or enhanced reimbursement or funding for technology in the 2018 budget, including no expectation for an extension of the 90/10 federal match for Medicaid IT or Eligibility/Enrollment systems as defined in A.87, which ends next year. However, across SNAP, child welfare and child support, federal participants on ISM panels expressed an openness and enthusiasm to work with states on potential waivers or opportunities for streamlining business operations as part of technology development and implementation that continue to ensure program integrity and federal outcomes.
Seminars and presentations on the benefits and realities of implementing the agile approach to project management and system development in the world of child welfare and health and human services and the challenges of modular implementation were well attended. Federal and state presenters identified some of the keys to ensuring success:
- comprehensive upfront planning and transparency among state and federal and vendor partners
- education of executive management and budget oversight committees
- change in internal business procedures
- most importantly, changes in procurement processes.
Mobile solutions and cloud-based applications presentations and discussions were reflective of how state and local governments continue to prioritize these technologies as they seek to improve user experiences, support enhanced system access by staff and consumers, and optimize industry trends and technology advancements.