Innovator Chat: Smarter Program Management Delivers Optimal Outcomes
Healthy cities must support the social and economic wellbeing of their citizens. Smarter social programs can help hard-working public servants connect their clients to the services they need -- and ultimately improve the economic sustainability and livability of the communities they serve.
Martin Duggan, Vice President of Market Strategy for IBM Cúram, responds to our questions on how IBM can help caseworkers optimize client outcomes, meet rising demand, and reduce costs.
1. How many different organizations or agencies serve a typical individual? What is the benefit of coordinating social programs across agencies at the community level and across levels of government to serve each individual?
It depends on the social program area. In supporting people with no or little income, there are usually many programs that are available to support. Some will come from the federal government or state (e.g. food stamps), some from the city (e.g. free school meals or travel passes) or county and some from non-profits (e.g. food banks, shelters). It is the combination of these programs that help people when they find themselves in difficult circumstances. It is not uncommon for 20 or 30 programs to be applicable to the family in situations like this -- and often each one has to be applied for separately with overlapping eligibility criteria.
2. How does your software help in understanding more about the situation citizens find themselves in -- their social context -- and help connect them to the programs that address their unique circumstances?
IBM Cúram Universal Access has a variety of ways to help you. It can ask you to identify your need (for instance income) and then through a series of guiding questions can screen all the programs to see which ones you might be eligible for and which ones you probably aren't. We call this triage. The software can take account of your life event and then identify which programs are relevant to that life event, even taking account your current circumstances if, for instance, you are already receiving some benefits. The software can formally allow you to apply for one or more benefits at the same time, eliminating multiple repeated questions. And finally, the software can allow you to screen for specific programs to check in detail whether you are likely to get the benefit or service and then to apply to it.
Which models you implement will depend on the program area and the objective and maturity of the social programs you are modernising. Most organizations start with triage and screening and then move onto multi-program applications and life events.
3. How does your software enable timely access to the right programs and effective delivery of those programs?
IBM Cúram uses triage and screening to take account of your circumstances and then work out which programs you might be eligible for. By allowing you to apply on-line and have your own account, governments can always make sure that the person is receiving the right benefits and services for his/her circumstances.
4. How does this cross-program coordination of services and benefits actually improve effectiveness and social program organization efficiency at the same time?
IBM Cúram speeds up the time of application and automates many of the checks and balances that are typically undertaken manually. Not only do citizens get what they need more speedily, but it costs less to administer and process at the same time.
5. How does your software incorporate feedback from caseworkers and measure an individual's progress toward the desired outcomes?
IBM Cúram allows the caseworker to take control of the case. Not only does the caseworker have an easy-to-use interface that allows him/her to see all that is going on, but there are a series of prompts and advice that allow more experienced caseworkers to provide support to newer ones. By using IBM Cúram Outcome Management, the caseworkers can see all the services and benefits being delivered, often from multiple team members, and steer the team to achieve an outcome for the citizen and his/her family.
6. How is information shared to optimize delivery and services to the right people at the right time, without sharing more information than necessary or allowed?
IBM Cúram has full security and privacy management tools to ensure that caseworkers and multi-disciplinary teams can only access information that they have the right and need to see.
7. How does your software help to verify that individuals are truly entitled to the benefits and services they receive? Are there alerts or triggers in the system that help uncover fraud and other serious system abuses?
IBM Cúram process models are built around leading industry practices to ensure that verification of all activities is undertaken and that the eligibility and entitlement process is fully protected against fraud, abuse, and error. Not only are alerts and triggers included in the system, but interfaces to sophisticated analytical approaches are enabled. Through the use of a system called Priority, Complexity, and Risk (PCR), IBM Cúram can dynamically respond to information and pull suspicious cases out of the process flow for investigative purposes.
Uniquely, the same model can be used to identify the low risk and less complex cases that don't require the same level of inspection and allow them to be fully automated -- significantly increasing efficiency while continuing to protect the system.
8. What are the interconnections and interdependencies between smarter social program management and other city systems and agencies? Why do those interconnections matter?
There are often many interconnections and interdependencies with other city systems -- it could be the education or the juvenile justice system. It could be other city or state social programs administered by other organizations. Bringing these together in a Universal Access approach is important to the citizen so that the programs that operate are actually used when they need to be used. In delivering benefits and services to achieve an outcome, they need to come together so that intervention by one agency does not cause a negative impact in another.
9. How does your software help manage those interconnections? How does that cross-system care coordination improve outcomes for citizens in need?
IBM Cúram Universal Access brings together programs at the entry into the social system. IBM Cúram Outcome Management brings together the delivery of multiple benefits and services so that caseworkers can truly focus on achieving an outcome.
10. How do smarter social programs drive improved economic sustainability and livability of a city?
Smarter social programs, implemented through IBM Cúram, allow cities and governments to increase the economic sustainability by allowing caseworkers and programs to focus on increasing the social and economic capabilities of the population. It might be about retraining services, or it could be about reducing crime among young people, or it could be through support programs that help people get back on their feet. Each case will be different and through IBM Cúram, smarter social programs recognize that difference and tailor the services to support people at their time in need.
Discover more. Click to view our infographic on how smarter social programs help caseworkers better serve clients.