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Why health and human service agencies must think digital

Four trends show how human services technology can change service delivery in the future.

Overview

Human services technology innovation can fuel transformation when it comes to service delivery, but it raises some important questions. Which technologies are most relevant now as new rules and new operating models are introduced? How can health and human service organizations use these new technologies to improve service, reduce costs and enable better outcomes? The Accenture Technology Vision 2013 offers answers to these human services technology questions.1

These emerging technologies are exciting—but often elusive in the public sector. To foster value, improve outcomes and meet mission goals, health and human services should consider how they can put these technologies to work now. With the right human services technology strategy and approach, agencies can begin to improve service delivery and fuel the public service transformation agenda for the future.

1 Accenture Technology Vision 2013: Every Business is a Digital Business,
http://www.accenture.com/SiteCollectionDocuments/microsites/it-trends-innovations-2013/pdfs/full-report-2013.pdf

Background

Every year, Accenture publishes a Technology Vision report that is based on Accenture’s evaluation of technologies that are three to five years away from full maturity. The Vision is not about technology that is beyond the reach of a human services agency—rather, it provides a look into the future and a practical guide for putting these key technologies to work. These technology ideas are relevant for government organizations that are under pressure to innovate and transform to deliver public service for the future.

The theme of Accenture’s Technology Vision 2013, “Every business is a digital business,” marks the need for organizations to embrace the opportunity for IT to function as a strategic asset that can fuel new levels of performance. For health and human services, this theme also illustrates the need for IT to help support collaboration and promote a client-centric service delivery model that can improve outcomes.

Analysis

To help organizations understand the range of human services technology opportunities today, Accenture has identified four technology trends that health and human services agencies can consider when creating a transformation agenda.

  1. Relationships at scale
    Personalization and relationship management are core to health and human services. Automation raises the risk of weakened personal relationships in exchange for stronger output, as opposed to outcome.

  2. Design for analytics
    Today’s public service environment demands that organizations manage data as a strategic resource. Thanks to the latest processors, information appliances and analytics tools, the underlying challenge is not technical. Process-oriented and culture-related roadblocks obstruct the path to smarter and more coordinated decision making.

  3. Data velocity
    When data moves at the velocity of the business, it enables a new level of outcome management. Data at velocity means that information and insights are available at the point of need, regardless of source.

  4. Seamless collaboration
    Collaboration is essential to effective health and human services delivery. The variety of organizations that can contribute to improved outcomes for multiple problem clients should be included. Human services technology solutions can connect all of these organizations and support the convergence of client-centric institutions.

Recommendations

  1. Relationships at scale
    In human services, it is important to understand each citizen’s needs based on their personal circumstances, what previous interactions have they had with public services and what is their intent. Through self-service, and the ability to manage cases more virtually than before, we won’t need citizens to ‘tell their story’ at each turn. Organizations can use human services technology to connect with every citizen in relevant ways and maintain that relationship at scale.

  2. Design for analytics
    Analytics can be the outcome engine to help tackle fraud, improve service delivery and inform policy. Analytics has the power to transform how health and human services systems operate and enable and better measure outcomes. However, health and human services agencies must plan for and invest in analytics in order to realize the true benefits of this emerging technology.

  1. Data velocity
    Data must be available when the organization needs it. Access to data at speed enables a new level of outcome management. Data at velocity means that information and insights are available at the point of need, regardless of source. This has great potential in human services to help reduce errors, improve satisfaction and inform cost allocation for greatest impact.

  2. Seamless collaboration
    Seamless collaboration requires agencies to take the lead and embed collaboration technologies into processes and systems across government. Human services technologies that work with existing processes, securely share data and enable effective communication across organizations can unlock the next wave of service delivery.