Looking past the lockdowns: Social programs in a post COVID age
Here in Oregon we are entering our second major lock down of the COVID era: restaurants closed for dine-in, metered access to grocery stores, and generally just stay at home. A difficult winter awaits us, but there is light on the horizon. Recent announcements regarding vaccines, along with commitment from the technology industry to help distribute them, leads to optimism and growing belief in a time when things get back to normal.
There will be more heartbreak in the social programs’ world. Caseloads in child services are low and that is because they may not have been reported. When schools open, the floodgates will open also, and the caseloads will increase. The question is how to respond to these increasing caseloads? And what lessons did we learn?
Responses to these increased caseloads will geared to both the short term and longer term. Short and long term technology solutions can, and should be, cloud based such as the solutions deployed in New York and Rhode Island. Short term solutions may rely on out-of-the-box use of simple tools like Google Docs. Long term solutions will reimagine and rearchitect social program technology solutions.
Cloud has finally become accepted. The ability to meet security and compliance requirements has been proven. It is time to fully engage with a modern technology approach. Medicaid Enterprise Systems (MES): modular, independent, flexible, and best-of-class for your particular problem represent the long-term future of social programs. While MES started as a Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) replacement concept, it has evolved today. By design, MES should enable the full scope of a Health and Human Services Enterprise, avoiding duplication and increasing efficiency for all social program. Some states, like Vermont, see the MES platform as something to enable the health of their population, including incorporation of Health Information Exchange and Integrated Eligibility Systems into the MES.
The biggest lesson we learned as states rushed to meet social services demand driven by COVID was that people enabled technology. Even the old legacy systems could be configured to meet the need. Pandemic SNAP was enabled quickly. Recertifications were suppressed. Some solutions were elegant and built on modern platforms. Some solutions were low level with stored procedures and data fixes. The important lesson is that people can make even obsolete technology work. And, if they had modern systems, the same ingenuity and willingness to work harder to meet the need will go farther, faster.
As we go back to normal, even in times of budget struggles, let’s pick up on plans to modernize, or make new ones. Let’s be prepared for the next unforeseen event and empower our people by giving them the tools to accomplish what is needed without heroic efforts.
Rick leads the Government Healthcare practice at Infosys for the US and Canada. He has 20+ years experience in healthcare and public sector.