Looking Back to See the Future More Clearly

As the first month of 2016 zooms by, Stewards of Change is embarking on what promises to be its busiest and most productive year ever – which leads me to think about how far our field has come during the decade since SOC came into being. In particular, I remember our first national symposium at Yale, where we started a conversation about information-sharing among health and human service programs. 

Interlopers whom we’d invited from other fields and disciplines were astonished by the byzantine “state of the art” in HHS, especially among programs that provided vital services to the nation’s most vulnerable populations. The recommendations we elicited and devised at that first symposium set the Stewards’ agenda for the past 10 years.
Flash forward to today. We haven’t made as much progress as we’d like, to be sure, but governments at every level – as well as organizations, businesses and individuals across our country – are now engaged in initiatives to break down silos and share information. Furthermore, words like interoperability, big data, open data, and social determinants of health and well-being are becoming part of our vocabulary and our common understanding of what’s needed to improve efficiency, lower spending and, most important, achieve better outcomes.
Against that backdrop, which I’m proud to say that Stewards has helped to shape, what follows are just a few highlights of what we’re up to in 2016 as we strive to stimulate even more progress. I’ll provide more details in subsequent blogs, and very much look forward to collaborating with many of you in the months ahead.
·     CaliforniaOpen DataFest III. We’re adding to this ambitious effort in 2016 by holding a regional open data event at Stanford University on February 12, in addition to the statewide symposium scheduled for March 14-15. We’re excited by this expansion both because it speaks to the success of the overall initiative to date and, most of all, because it adds an important new dimension: exploring the intersection between academic research and open data.  This is a new area and holds promise to be mutually beneficial by expanding the view offered by different types of data.
Our partner in this endeavor is the California Health and Human Services Agency, which has become a true leader in creating and promoting programs that utilize big data to improve services and performance. The latest example is CHHSA’s “Let’s Get Healthy California”initiative, which will inform both the regional and statewide ODF events.
·     InterOptimability Training Curriculum and Certification Program (ITCC). Watch your inbox during the coming weeks, because we’re about to send you an invitation to watch a short video that will unveil this state-of-the-art, first-of-its kind program. What’s the first word in that title, you ask? Interoperability + Optimization = InterOptimability. In other words it’s what you do with the data and connectivity once systems and programs are connected.
We’re designing ITCC in order to provide comprehensive training and an accredited certification to government and industry executives, program managers, supervisors and case workers – with the objectives of helping them keep up with the rapid pace of change in our field, of advancing health equity and, as ever, of improving outcomes.
·     Improving Performance in Child Welfare with IBM. We are collaborating with IBM’s Watson team on a series of regional roundtable discussions with state child welfare directors from across the country. Our intent is to gain on-the-ground, real-time information and insights for research we are conducting on ways to use data, analytics, and cognitive computing – across organizational sectors to improve programs and services for children and families.
·     Stewards of Change Institute 11th National Symposium. The theme of this year’s event is “Interoperability in Action – What’s Working Now” – and we’ll focus across multiple fields, from child welfare to juvenile justice, from public to behavioral health, and … well, you get the idea. The event will take place in June, and we’re proud to sponsor it once again in collaboration with John’s Hopkins University. It’s already shaping up to be one of our most extensive and ambitious symposia to date.
Please follow the links in this blog or head over to the Stewards of Change website for more information about all of our initiatives, as well as others to come. On behalf of all of us at the Stewards Institute, I invite you to join us as a supporter, a participant and a partner – and I wish you a very happy and successful New Year.


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