By Alan Jolly, SVP and managing director, Human Services Eligibility Solutions, Xerox

Transforming the nation’s public assistance into efficient, accurate and fraud-free programs has been a challenge for decades. With the economic downturn, applications for aid, such as Medicaid and food stamps, surged, adding pressure to an already strained system. In spite of tough times, states like Indiana and Louisiana are providing better service to citizens and better stewardship of tax dollars.

Championing this progress, the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) recently hosted a webinar inviting Indiana and Louisiana to share how they have transformed the way caseworkers manage their caseloads and interact with citizens.

In both states, it’s not just about buying new systems. The real issue is understanding workflow and business processes around casework, then reengineering them so they provide better, more efficient service to citizens. The results have been dramatic.

Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) re-engineered casework business processes so citizens apply for assistance in ways that work best for them – in person, web, phone or email. Caseworkers now have tools and technology to quickly find information they need to determine eligibility across all programs. Virtual case folders allow work to move from local agency offices to regional or central offices and balance the case workload for greatest productivity. Timeliness of application processing went from 58 percent in 2009 to 96 percent today. And, FSSA has saved $129 million since 2010.

Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) took a more incremental approach to modernizing its human services programs with a new customer service center and interactive voice response system, which field most calls across multiple programs. Some 97 percent of calls are resolved without caseworker intervention, freeing up caseworkers to handle more mission-critical work and manage more cases. Cost-effective, self-service options have also improved access to program information.

Other states looking to improve services can learn from Indiana and Louisiana:

  • Examine and reengineer business processes for efficiency.  Then incorporate technology to support the improved workflow.
  • Break down the silos across programs. Establish a more holistic solution for families and embrace interdepartmental collaboration.
  • Take on what is achievable. Human services modernization doesn’t have to happen all at once. It can be done over time, working toward the vision of a transformed program.

To hear more about how Indiana and Louisiana improved their programs, listen to a replay of the APHSA webinar, “Transforming State and County Health and Human Services: New Business Models” and download the presentations.

Alan Jolly is a Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Xerox’s Human Services Eligibility Solutions line of business. He is an expert in service delivery models to support human services program management.