State, local health agencies moving faster towards cloud, mobile, cybersecurity

State and local health and human services agencies progress in their use of digital tech to be more effective and efficient, new survey reveals.
By Bill Siwicki
09:56 AM
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health agencies moving towards cloud, mobile, cybersecurity

State and local health and human services agencies across the United States continue to make progress in their use of digital technologies to become more effective and efficient, according to a new report from the American Public Human Services Association and IT professional membership organization CompTIA.

HHS innovation stems in part from the expanded use of cloud-based services, with 74 percent of agencies reporting they have applications in the cloud, up from 55 percent in 2016, the “2017 Health and Human Services State of the States Survey” reported.

Agencies also are making greater use of mobile technology, self-service customer call centers and online consumer portals to modernize service delivery, the report found. Service providers are taking these steps even while dealing with the uncertainty of the ongoing federal healthcare debate.

“While federal mandates for change in health and human services are slowing somewhat as public policy debates take place at the national level about the direction of federal programs, state agencies continue to face an immediate need for greater administrative efficiencies,” said Jennifer Saha, director, public sector councils, at CompTIA.

79 percent of agencies have adopted a cybersecurity framework based on national standards and guidelines, the survey found. Also, 74 percent have developed security awareness training for workers and contracts, the survey said.

Agencies are focused on three areas as they seek to modernize service delivery, the survey found. First, more than 80 percent of respondents report having a call center, with 74 percent using an interactive or automated voice response system. Second, 45 percent of agencies surveyed indicate that mobility is a component of their service delivery system.

And third, customer access via a portal continues to evolve, with activities such as application submissions, status checks on applications and benefits, and general program information virtually universally available online.

The majority of survey respondents said that public policy debates and the uncertainties of policy direction at the national level impact their modernization efforts.

“Our partnership with CompTIA has allowed us to conduct new research revealing the most significant IT challenges state and local HHS thought leaders face,” said Tracy Wareing Evans, American Public Human Services Association president and CEO. “We firmly believe the results will not only raise the visibility of how agencies are addressing those challenges but will also enable or accelerate the ability of agencies across the country to meet their missions and generate solutions that work.”

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com