What’s in store for government organizations in 2017?

A new route for better outcomes

Posted by Rachel Frey on February 9, 2017

Anyone can create insight. What really counts is the actions government organizations take with it. The best analytics initiatives start with outcomes in mind—outcomes like supporting better engagement, working smarter, increasing efficiency, reducing costs, and bettering lives—and then the mission-critical plan for realizing them. As 2017 kicks off, four exciting trends are emerging in the health and human services arena that can make use of data to produce cost-containing outcomes more than ever:

  1. Customer knowledge deepens. Government agencies are trying to truly understand how to engage with people. To be effective, agencies need to go beyond understanding basic demographics, like age and gender, to understanding their behaviors so as to tailor interactions to them. The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions is experiencing great success with it. When the agency learned that one dollar out of eight distributed under the unemployment insurance program went to someone who was ineligible, it tried to better understand what the unemployed and employer populations looked like, how they behaved in the past and their likelihood to behave the same in the future. This action led to fewer incorrectly paid dollars and enhanced customer service. Better understanding the habits of customers, not just their demographics, will become key to producing better outcomes in 2017.
  2. Cognitive insights, engagement, and automation are on the rise. The way we manage and execute work is changing. Whether it be through automating human interventions and interactions wherever possible or creating inline guidance so workers know what questions to ask or steps to take, data and its associated insights are front and center in not just guiding, but in some cases, prescribing certain actions. We’ve seen such progress in administrative activities, such as recognizing when a technology system is likely to experience an error based on past patterns and automating interventions to prevent the error from arising. We have also seen cognitive automation having a positive impact in the area of human services delivery.
  3. Human services workers often rely on experience to deal with ever increasing workloads. Keeping up to date with changing regulations further adds to the pressures associated with delivering the right services at the right time. Enter the world of cognitive insights. Cognitive insights can provide workers with real-time, inline guidance that provides successful outcomes for a customer. As an example, cognitive insights can generate recommendations for a worker as to specific questions to ask a parent that is having challenges meeting child support obligations in order to increase support compliance. Cognitive automation can also enhance workload management efforts by prioritizing which cases workers should tackle first to make the most impact. Administrators who are able to seize the benefits of new technology can work toward competitive advantage for their agency in 2017.
  4. Data exchange amidst agencies and programs is here to stay. It’s not just better outcomes that this trend promises. At its core, it betters lives. Government agencies often have maintained duplicate information across departments and limited exchange of information due to privacy, regulatory, and overall concerns around quality; we’re seeing a massive move to interoperability. In addition, exchange of information between programs that historically haven’t shared information is on the rise. If society and government agencies shared data more, it could help prevent some things that are costly to taxpayers.

For example, some corrections departments and health agencies are sharing information so they can better understand the correlation between behavioral health and someone’s likelihood of being incarcerated. In the past, a person may be arrested and jailed for a crime that is linked to a behavioral health issue. By detecting those issues before a crime is committed, perhaps jail time could be avoided with the right interventions. Exchanging the data in ways not done so before could pose great promise in 2017.

Keep your eyes on state and local governments, as they are the ones who are swiftly responding to and exploring emerging technologies and ideas. Health and human services can translate the tremendous amount of data they collect and use the cognitive tools that exist to support these efforts, potentially resulting in really powerful outcomes—reduced workload for workers, stronger program results, and ultimately reduced costs for their departments.

Rachel Frey is a principal in Deloitte Consulting LLP’s State Government Health and Human Services practice. For the past 15 years, she has worked with state and local government agencies defining approaches and implementing business and technology solutions to enhance service delivery; prevent and detect fraud, waste, and abuse; streamline business operations; refine organizational structures; and evaluate policies that drive these efforts. Rachel has a master’s degree in public policy and management from the Heinz School at Carnegie Mellon and currently leads Deloitte’s Human Services Analytics solution offerings.


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