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How America Recovers

Bringing our country back to health isn’t just a matter of vaccinating the masses and distributing checks. What’s missing to make it all work?

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Not since the New Deal have we seen a government aid effort with the scale and ambition of the American Rescue Plan—yet the technologies and infrastructure needed to achieve its goals at the local, state, and federal levels are largely outdated or untested.

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So how can we ensure the holistic recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak that our country needs?

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Our recovery is complicated.

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It's physical.

We continue to live under the threat of a deadly virus, and need to ensure swift, well-structured vaccine distribution.

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And it's economic.

Through the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan, local governments have tens of millions of dollars in aid to distribute to individuals and businesses that are in urgent need of support.

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Without digital workflows, a rapid recovery simply isn’t possible. We need to digitize our infrastructure to quickly and efficiently deliver these critical services.

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These problems aren’t new.

The public sector was the least agile industry in its COVID-19 response. And although our health-care system is further along in its digital transformation, it was inundated during the pandemic, escalating the need for more agile systems.

Source: Business Platform and Agility Survey, ServiceNow x ESI ThoughtLab, February 2021
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In the midst of a pandemic, agility can mean the difference between life or death, between ongoing struggle and relief.

Here’s how a hospital system and a local government used digital workflows to better serve their populations at this pressing moment.

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Vaccine Distribution at Children’s Minnesota

Children’s Minnesota is among the largest pediatric health-care systems in the country. When the vaccine rollout began, health systems such as Children’s Minnesota were responsible for their own scheduling—with as little as 96 hours’ notice before the next allotment would arrive.

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Vaccine Distribution at Children’s Minnesota

When Children’s Minnesota expanded its vaccination program, word spread, and it was overwhelmed with a surge of walk-in patients. On January 31, 2021, there were 600 people lining its hospital hallways without adequate room for social distancing.

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Vaccine Distribution at Children’s Minnesota

“It was cars as far as the eye could see toward downtown Minneapolis.”

Patsy Stinchfield, a pediatric nurse practitioner and head of the hospital’s COVID-19 incident command

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Vaccine Distribution at Children’s Minnesota

Children’s Minnesota created a new digital workflow to manage vaccine distribution. Built on the Now Platform, it enabled them to vaccinate 1,400 patients in just 11 hours, reducing the wait time from three hours to 20 minutes.

Going forward, the hospital will use the same system to schedule and track COVID-19 boosters and its annual influenza campaign.

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Federal Aid Distribution in Montgomery County, Ohio

Montgomery County, Ohio, is home to more than 500,000 people. Historically, some of its local government programs were run manually with mailed-in, dropped-off, or emailed applications. Other programs were automated but couldn’t scale to handle a major influx of federal aid.

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Federal Aid Distribution in Montgomery County, Ohio

In May 2020, Montgomery County found out that it would receive nearly $93 million in CARES Act funding—which presented a huge economic boost for its community and an unprecedented logistical hurdle.

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Federal Aid Distribution in Montgomery County, Ohio

Montgomery County’s IT department used the Now Platform to handle this influx of federal aid. By June, it had developed a new digital workflow to manage and track grant applications in a central hub, and it processed more than 1,600 grant applications in the ensuing five months.

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Federal Aid Distribution in Montgomery County, Ohio

“We needed to build a system to provide relief to our community at that scale. With this platform, we delivered an essential solution in record time.”

Uchenna Youngblood, Montgomery County’s director of information technology

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Federal Aid Distribution in Montgomery County, Ohio

That new efficiency helped a local nonprofit get funding and serve 2,500 meals a day to seniors during the coronavirus pandemic. The same streamlined process could connect other grant applicants with utilities and rent assistance.

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Faced with serious challenges, limited staffing, and mere weeks to prepare, both Children’s Minnesota and Montgomery County, Ohio, met the needs of their communities using digital workflows.

These new processes allowed them to focus on the care and services they provide without being encumbered by busy work—making real recovery possible.

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The coronavirus pandemic escalated the need for digital transformation, but it can help us beyond our immediate recovery.

The key is human-centered design.

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Low-code platforms let nontechnical people build their own apps based on processes that work best for them.

This is platform agility in practice: care providers and government employees updating their workflows to address new challenges.

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And, most important, this approach frees care providers and government employees to do the jobs they actually signed up to do.

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“They didn’t sign up to be a part of the government so that they could reset people’s passwords. They want to help people in their communities…”

Tom Yeatts, ServiceNow’s chief technology officer for state and local government and education

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“…These tools allow these government agencies to—hopefully, over time—spend less on their technology stack and more on actually serving citizens.”

Tom Yeatts, ServiceNow’s chief technology officer for state and local government and education

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