In brief

In brief

  • IDC explores key themes from the 2018 Health and Human Services Summit, including building ecosystems, driving innovation and using virtual reality.
  • Leaders met in October 2018 for the Summit hosted by the Technology and Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard University.
  • Cross-sector and cross-government participants collaborated to improve outcomes under tight fiscal constraints and growing demands for service.


The 2018 Health and Human Services Summit brought together government, nonprofit and industry leaders to examine and collaborate on real-world examples and models of ecosystems. These ecosystems have emerged and expanded to address complex health and human service needs, improve outcomes despite resource constraints and develop transformative approaches that leverage data, cross-organizational collaboration and emerging technologies.

IDC PERSPECTIVE – The 2018 Health and Human Services Summit:

Innovation through virtual reality

A highlight of the 2018 Health and Human Services Summit was the ability to participate in an Accenture-developed virtual reality training experience for human services workers, known as the Accenture Virtual Experience Solution (AVEnueS).

Developing the skills caseworkers need to more effectively engage, observe, decide and interpret signs of safety and well-being typically takes years. Accenture developed AVEnueS to accelerate the pace of learning and help caseworkers refine their skills and become more alert and cognizant of the various signals of well-being and safety indicators they observe. It uses immersive storytelling and interactive voice-based scenarios to assist caseworkers in honing their data-gathering and decision-making skills.

To create this interactive learning experience, Accenture leveraged natural language processing to allow the user to verbally choose from a selection of questions and receive different levels of information based on how they asked the question. AVEnueS employs real people, a real home and an immersive 360-degree headset to help trainees develop skills required for important decision points they encounter every day. Being immersed in the family’s home environment highlights the ambiguity present in many home visits while enhancing the scope of awareness and observation.

Prior to engaging with Accenture AVEnueS, participants were reminded that family separation can have devasting effects on children, impacting brain development, psychological health and emotional well-being.

“I found the immersion into the experience of a caseworker to be startling—from the 3D approach to the cluttered front porch to the unkempt rooms and the mother’s challenge to my unwelcome visit,” writes Adelaide O’Brien in the IDC report. “The experience was shockingly realistic as I learned of recent drug use, accusations of drunkenness, and observed the bruises on the eldest child. Long after I virtually visited the family, I personally weighed the options of separating the children versus working with the family to keep the children in a safe environment.”

"I found the immersion into the experience of a caseworker to be startling…[and] shockingly realistic."

–Adelaide O'Brien, Research Director – IDC Government Insights

Accenture AVEnueS helps increase the likelihood of achieving better outcomes for the families and children they serve by providing the opportunity for the human services workforce to rapidly discuss the decision points and hone their skills:

  • Assess ambiguity in home environments -- Expose trainees to high-stress situations in a safe setting and without real-world risk.
  • Build confidence through practice -- Provide fully immersive 3D environments for optimized experiential learning.
  • Accelerate the pace of learning -- Increase learning retention by 45 to 60 percent as compared with traditional education methods.
"IDC believes that virtual reality as the next generation of digital, physical and human interfaces will play a major role in many agency processes."

–Adelaide O'Brien, Research Director – IDC Government Insights

Adelaide O'Brien

Research Director – IDC Government Insights

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