For many social services departments across the US, implementing a master client index (or “single view of the citizen”) is seen as a way to solve mostly tactical problems – to identify the number of citizens served by the department for legislative purposes, for example, or to reduce the cost of sharing data with other departments and agencies.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. A single citizen view also provides a foundation for other, more transformative programs, and can deliver a wide range of opportunities for a social services department to draw more value from their demographic data. (We’ve written before about the experience of the State of Alaska DHSS, which is just one example.)
Here, we look at three reasons IT decision-makers and heads of social services departments need to implement a single view of the citizen to meet their strategic goals and deliver higher quality, more cost-effective services to the public.
1. Delivering better coordinated care
A common problem for many social services departments – and for municipalities, counties and states as a whole – is that a single citizen may be served by a large number of agencies and divisions, without knowledge or visibility of one another. So a single at-risk child may be served by a case worker within children’s services, a case worker within juvenile justice, a, without a single source of data on their case or record of the services they use.
This is cost-ineffective for obvious reasons, with no real collaboration taking place to ensure government resources are used in the most efficient and least wasteful way possible. It can also lead to less desirable outcomes both for the citizen and the community, with problems taking longer to solve and often growing more significant with time.
With a single view of the citizen, it’s much easier to ensure up-to-date, accurate and complete data on an individual, and their social services history is available to the right case worker at the right time – meaning resources aren’t wasted on unnecessary visits.
2. Connectivity to other systems
Once the foundations are in place, a single view of the citizen can be scaled up and rolled out to other government departments and agencies, too – delivering service improvements and cost savings across the board.
For example, if social services demographic data is shared with departments responsible for eligibility, child support enforcement and so on, it can ensure those departments have access to up-to-date and accurate data for informed decision-making – as well as identification of fraud, waste and abuse.
3. Advanced analytics
On the subject of decision-making, a single view of the citizen in social services can provide a robust and powerful foundation for advanced analytics programs.
By breaking down their data silos and establishing a single source of demographic data, department heads can easily answer questions like:
- How many unique citizens are served by the department?
- Which citizens are most dependent on the department?
- Which citizens incur the greatest cost to the department and why?
With a wide range of systems and data sources in play, these questions are next to impossible to answer in a fast and accurate manner. A single citizen view, on the other hand, provides a holistic view of service provision and consumption, and can be used to identify otherwise hidden opportunities to reduce costs and improve service quality.