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State-Based Health Agencies Investing in Analytics

April 12, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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The States of Arkansas and South Carolina are investing in big data to change how they deliver healthcare services, the two agencies recently announced in separate releases. Both state governments will do through “Smarter Cities” from IBM (Armonk, N.Y.), which aims to use analytics to streamline various processes and integrate data sources.

In the case of Arkansas, the “Smarter Cities” will be used to integrate data from various programs in the state’s Department of Human Services (DHS) into a re-useable and scalable platform. According to IBM, it will be used for Medicaid beneficiaries, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), among other programs. Patients will be able to determine their benefits eligibility without having to know all the details on all the programs available to them.

 “This will be DHS’ first step in transforming an IT infrastructure that is composed of more than 30 discrete system silos in an aging architecture,” Dick Wyatt, chief information officer for Arkansas DHS, said in a statement. “Having a total view of our clients in one application — using the latest technology — will provide DHS with the ability to better manage the services provided. In addition, it will give DHS the ability to react more timely and efficiently to the many changes that are occurring and will continue to occur in the human services and healthcare arena.”    

In South Carolina, the program which is powered by IBM’s Curam software, will aim to streamline and improve access by providing Medicaid patients with 24/7 online self-service, and enhancing support for a mobile and community-based workforce.

“Our updated Medicaid eligibility system will make it easier for all South Carolinians to access the State’s programs,” stated John Supra, deputy director & chief information officer for the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “Our current manual paper-driven approach limits flexibility in our processes and impacts speed and consistency. We expect the new system to provide us a platform to improve our eligibility performance and be able to more quickly and cost-effectively respond to future changes to the Medicaid programs.” 

Recently, the State of Mississippi’s Medicaid division announced it was looking to integrate claims and clinical data from various health information exchanges through a product from the Emeryville, Calif.-based performance management software vendor, MedeAnalytics.

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