Historically, HHS integration efforts have run into roadblocks, often requiring dramatic restructuring of organizations, ripping out and replacing large investments in technology systems, and transferring data ownership from host agencies. Many HHS agencies, departments and programs are disconnected, both in terms of information technology and internal processes. Multiple legacy systems that support services to the same individuals or families have often been built without reference to each other. Individuals and families, consequently, are forced to traverse programs from different entry points, providing largely the same personal information to receive components of services that address only some of their needs.

Last month at the Government Health IT Conference & Exhibition, an alliance of partners unveiled its work on a comprehensive, multivendor connected health and human services (HHS) technology architecture that is connecting disparate state and jurisdictional human services systems to give providers one comprehensive view into citizen/customer needs. The group supports the release of version 2.0 of the Microsoft Connected Health and Human Services Framework, which presents a flexible, individual and family-centered approach for addressing the challenges that face HHS agencies, departments and programs as they respond to complex social needs and problems and deliver services to individuals and families in need.

"The extensive engagement of current and future partners in this framework will allow all of our state customers to provide a holistic approach to serving the citizens with whom they are engaging," said Bill O'Leary, executive director of HHS for the U.S. Public Sector at Microsoft.

"This group of partners is coming together to put a stake in the ground around connecting information technology and cross-agency processes so citizens are the beneficiaries of top-notch service."

Enabling consumer-centered scenarios across government empowers caseworkers to have a complete case history on the individuals they are servicing. The Connected HHS Framework provides support for a systematic and leveraged road map approach to program enhancements so caseworkers can more rapidly gain insight to the multiprogram interactions that are common to the clients they serve -- not only in HHS, but across other agencies as well including justice, public safety and education, for example. The framework fosters an industry-standards-based shared-services model that facilitates efficient and effective reuse of business and technical functions common across the numerous stand-alone programs representative of state HHS agencies.

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