An Opportunity to Promote Progress in HHS – by Listening

It’s always a pleasure for me to spread the word about important initiatives in our world – and even more so when I have the privilege to be involved in one. That’s the case with an ambitious new effort announced yesterday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, titled “Data for Health.” Its goal is to “explore how information and data on health can be harnessed to help people lead healthier lives,” largely through a “listening tour” of five U.S. cities in early 2015. I’m honored (and, honest, humbled given the company I’m in) to be on the advisory committee for this initiative; to read the Foundation’s press release for more details, click here.

All in all, the last few months have been a particularly busy time in a very good wayfor the Stewards of Change Institute (SOCI).  We are continuing to build the Institute into a national “think and act” tank that regularly convenes and learns from the top minds in the field of health and human services. SOCI also develops and disseminates curricula, best practices and other relevant materials; and provides hands-on services, consulting and advocacy to systemically improve interoperability and information-sharing – and, as a direct result, to enhance the wellness and health of everyone in our country.

Just last month, I returned from the ISM conference in Atlanta, which was a terrific event that featured presentations by HHS officials, practitioners, educators and other experts from around the U.S., and some other nations as well. It was encouraging to see the breadth and depth of the sessions focused on information sharing and interoperability within HHS, which is a topic that we have been actively championing for nearly a decade. Then, as the month came to a close, I delivered a keynote address – titled “State of the States: Using Data and Analytics to Serve Citizens” – at the Virginia Secretaries’ Analytics Conference in Richmond.

I’m particularly grateful to have been given the opportunity to facilitate three consecutive and highly interactive sessions a few weeks earlier at the Medicaid Enterprise Systems Conference (MESC) in Denver. It was a terrific occasion to repurpose key themes from SOC’s 9th annual symposium (see below) and stimulate thinking about – and adoption by the Medicaid technology community regarding – the interplay between health and human services. And it allowed me to distill and explain the core concepts SOCI has worked on for the last 10 years.

All these opportunities came in the wake of the 9th Annual SOCI Symposium, which we held last June in collaboration with the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. Thanks yet again to everyone who attended and participated. We are particularly appreciative of Kshemendra Paul, Program Manager for the national ‘Information Sharing Environment.‘ Mr. Paul provided a powerful keynote speech about responsible information sharing,with applications for health and human services. He also offered strong encouragement to symposium participants for the work we are doing, including in a thoughtful recent blog titled “Information Sharing at the Edge of the Enterprise.”

Next, I’m delighted to let you know about the latest work that we at Stewards have helped to produce: a Confidentiality Toolkit for with the National League of Cities, designed to help local leaders identify how data can be securely shared to improve services, while protecting residents’ privacy; and a comparable product for New York State. The latter publication is already available, and the NLC Toolkit will be introduced in various settings in the coming weeks. These efforts represent progress in promoting change in HHS across our country, something that has been too slow in coming. I was able to make that point, by the way, in a story that recently ran in Politico, headlined “States use IT to integrate Medicaid, other services.” (Summary only, full article is behind pay wall).

Last but absolutely not least, we’re already hard at work designing a very special symposium in recognition of our 10th anniversary. We will hold the event again in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University in mid-2015. We’re very proud of the quality, participation and impact of our symposia, and of all we’ve been able to accomplish during the last decade. There’s much more to come … so please stay tuned.



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