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High-value, No-touch human services solutions: There’s an app for that

Human services agencies are pursuing mobile human services solutions, but the key to success is not just in the technology—it’s about citizen adoption.

Overview

Mobility is essential to delivering public service for the future—and the possibilities for the use of mobile apps in human services are exciting.

Accenture estimates that the broad use of mobile apps among citizens could save caseworkers 62 days worth of time per year based on an analysis of 5,000 state agency workers. This means that caseworkers can focus this 62 days of “recovered time” on customers requiring more individualized attention. So what should agencies do to position themselves for this new value from mobile human services solutions?

Getting mobile apps right means seeing beyond the excitement of the latest “shiny object.” It demands a strategic approach to building and sustaining mobile app adoption. Success is not about technology alone—that’s the easy part. It’s about communicating value and changing citizen behaviors.

Background

Most human services agencies recognize the role for mobile human services solutions in delivering public service for the future. The majority of Americans own a smartphone—and market penetration rates and people’s comfort with the technology are growing.

Mobility is also helping to bridge the digital divide. Low-income families that cannot afford a computer use smartphones for digital access—from surfing the Internet to downloading apps. Many of these mobile-equipped families are human services agency clients. In the digital world, agencies need to pursue delivery channels that “meet people where they are” to enhance the service experience.

Analysis

Done right, purpose-built human services apps can deliver significant benefits to citizens, caseworkers and agencies:

  • Citizen value. Using a mobile app for transactional services eliminates visits to the human services office. People save the time they would have spent traveling there, waiting in line and meeting with a caseworker.

  • Caseworker value. Mobile apps help caseworkers function more efficiently and effectively, driving mission productivity through task shifting. This is because apps lower call volume and in-person visits and automate basic services.

  • Agency value. While human services agencies can benefit from more satisfied citizens and more productive staff from mobile apps, they can also experience significant cost savings.

Recommendations

Human services agencies should follow the same four-phase approach that industries with successful mobile app uptake have pioneered to drive widespread and sustained adoption:

  1. Awareness. The first step in mobile app adoption is generating awareness for what they do, how they help and where to get them.

  2. Understanding. Once people are aware of mobile apps, they must understand how to access and use them.

  3. Acceptance. To get people to consider mobile apps over other channels, mobile adoption pioneers push links to apps through QR codes, secure text and email.

  4. Ownership. The ultimate in mobile app adoption is when it becomes second nature for people to use them, and they choose this channel consistently over all others.


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