Oct 24, 2017 - Washington, D.C. — State and local health and human services (HHS) 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 released today by CompTIA and the American Public Human Services Association (APSHA).

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

Agencies are also making greater use of mobility technologies, self-services customer call centers and online consumer portals to modernize service delivery. 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, CompTIA.

The second annual survey by CompTIA’s Human Services Information Technology Advisory Group (HSITAG)  and APSHA offers insights from state and local health and human services thought leaders relative to agency IT issues, challenges, trends, and perspectives. The report will be presented at this year’s IT Solutions Management for Human Services (ISM) Conference.

“Our partnership with CompTIA has allowed us to conduct new research revealing the most significant IT challenges state and local HHS thought leaders face. 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,” said Tracy Wareing Evans, APHSA president and CEO.

Dozens of human services leaders at the state government level provided insight on where the human services IT vertical is heading in the next year. They shared their perspectives on service delivery modernization; federal partnerships and interagency/state collaboration; governance; workforce optimization; cloud and cybersecurity; emerging trends/technology; and modularity.

HHS agencies, which deal with large volumes of personal information, are engaged and invested in improving their cybersecurity readiness. For example, 79 percent of agencies have adopted a cybersecurity framework based on national standards and guidelines. Also, 74 percent have developed security awareness training for workers and contracts.

The survey finds that agencies are focused on three areas as they seek to modernize service delivery:

  • Customer calls centers – More than 80 percent of respondents report have a call center, with 74 percent using an interactive or automated voice response system.
  • Mobility technologies – 45 percent of agencies surveyed indicate that mobility is a component of their service delivery system.
  • Consumer portals – 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 respondents said that public policy debates and the uncertainties of policy direction at the national level impact their modernization efforts. Other inhibitors are at play, as well.

“Among those surveyed, budget constraints are the greatest impediment to service delivery modernization efforts, followed by a three-way tie among governance challenges, workforce limitations, and organizational change,” Saha said.

For a copy of the report, please visit https://www.comptia.org/communities/public-sector-councils/the-human-services-information-technology-advisory-group.

Methodology
Data for this study was collected via an online survey of state health and human services thought leaders with expertise and decision-making authority in various areas of technology as deployed in human services agencies. The online survey was supplemented with one-on-one telephone and in-person interviews conducted by HSITAG members to provide additional context and insights. Data collection occurred in July 2017.   

CompTIA: Building the Foundation for Technology’s Future
The Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) is the world's leading technology association, with approximately 2,000 member companies, 3,000 academic and training partners, over 100,000 registered users and more than two million IT certifications issued. CompTIA's unparalleled range of programs foster workforce skills development and generate critical knowledge and insight – building the foundation for technology’s future. Visit CompTIA onlineFacebookLinkedIn and Twitter to learn more. 

The American Public Health Services Association (APHSA)
The American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) is a bipartisan, nonprofit membership organization representing state and local human service agencies through their top-level leadership. Through our member network and three national Collaborative Centers, APHSA seeks to influence modern policies and practices that support the health and well-being of all children and families and that lead to stronger communities. APHSA connects its members to national policymakers and human-serving organizations across a wide circle of stakeholders in the health and human services sector, as well as key partners in education, housing, employment and others. APHSA also helps members build more capacity for their teams through access to our professional education and development conferences, technical expertise, publications and our Organizational Effectiveness practice. To learn more about APHSA please visit www.aphsa.org.