Can data save state and local governments?

Rachel Eckertblog-sledanalyticsBy Rachel Eckert, SLED consultant

While the tumultuous situation in Washington is throwing a wrinkle into state and local politics, governments will continue to face a lack of funding and siloed operations. These two problems aren’t necessarily independent of each other, though. Siloed operations can create financial nightmares in the form of duplicative efforts and inefficient uses of data.

This was among the topics of discussion during last week’s Outlook 2017 event, organized by Governing Magazine.

Duplicative efforts and inefficiencies spell disaster for constrained budgets, which are already struggling to adequately fund education and public safety as Medicaid takes over an ever larger share of their budgets.

On average, Medicaid accounts for 20 percent of a state’s budget and that number is expected to grow to 30 percent over the next four years, according to Moody’s Analytics economist, Dan White. Each jump in spending from Medicaid means a corresponding drop from other programs like K-12 education, higher education and public safety.

There may be a silver lining in all this funding doom and gloom, though. Health and human services organizations are beginning to recognize that they can boost their efficiency by effectively using data. Investments in information systems that will help organizations understand their own data through data integration and analytics are likely to continue. Policy makers love having data and more analysis means they can make smarter decisions. Here are some ways that could pan out:

  • Help with data and organizational integration

Silos don’t just occur between agencies but between jurisdictions. Making better use of the data state and local governments already have means they can provide a more comprehensive health system from the counties on up to the state government. Integration of data can provide improved patient tracking that would enable organizations to focus on the patients with the greatest needs.

  • Refocus health and human services on outcomes rather than care

Traditionally, health and human services focus on the services offered rather than the problem to be solved. Using analytics on the newly integrated data means organizations can pinpoint those patients in the system who frequent hospital emergency rooms and other emergency health options earlier. ERs provide the most expensive type of health care and intervening early can help state and local governments save money.

  • Enable smarter policy decision-making

The ultimate end goal is to empower policy makers with data so they can make smarter decisions about how and where to focus funding. Knowing where the greatest needs are means those patients receive a greater share of the funding to adequately meet their health and human service’s needs. Keeping repeat patients out of the system can help save state and local governments a great deal of money.

The health and human services market may be in flux with the potential repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act but that doesn’t mean that organizations will stop looking at ways to save money. Whichever direction the market goes, there will always be a shortage of money and a need for smarter ways to allocate that money through data analytics. A positive effect on governments’ bottom line will definitely be welcome.

Need help identifying the right state and local government data analytics decision makers? Contact immixGroup’s industry-leading Market Intelligence team today to learn about specific programs and contacts that have a pressing need for your IT solution.

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