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Created

August 30, 2012

Optimizing Human Services for a Mobile World

Mobile technology is no longer an optional luxury. Research shows that in 2011 more smartphones shipped than personal computers. Therefore, a truly effective Digital Government requires a strategy that moves beyond merely porting traditional web content to mobile devices. This post will explore why agencies must think about designing mobile service experiences from the citizen in, rather than from the system out; delivering personalized content and applications that are optimized for how citizens expect to use their devices.

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The following article, sponsored by Adobe, was recently featured in the August 2012 edition of “Policy and Practice,” the magazine of the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA).

 

Health & Human Services Agencies Must Embrace the Mobile Revolution

 By Garrick Beil, Senior Manager for Health & Human Services at Adobe Systems, Inc.

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Not since the dawn of the Internet have we seen such an opportunity for transformation– and such a risk of not fully grasping how a major technology trend applies to Health & Human Services.  The disruptive innovation is already here.  According to new research from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 88% of all US adults now own a cell phone and 46% of all American adults now use a smart phone.  In addition, the highest overall growth in smartphone use occurred in the lowest income bracket: 12% growth among people from households earning $30,000 per year or less.  The data proves that a large percentage of your constituents, caregivers and staff are able to engage digitally from a mobile device. 

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Here are four ideas you need to consider implementing now:

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1.       Ensure Your Agency Website is Mobile-Ready

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Developing an engaging and meaningful web experience for a multi-screen world is a challenge.  The recent explosion of connected devices means content must now move seamlessly with the customer—whether it’s on a smartphone, a tablet or a PC.  This introduces tremendous complexity for designers and developers. 

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Today, most HHS agency websites and customer self-service portals are optimized for access from PC’s with a high speed internet connection.  That same user experience must now be translated to function just as well from any mobile device, which includes hundreds of popular device types.  The realization that your agency may not have a web content management system or other related tools capable of supporting a multi-screen user base is already here for many agency IT Managers.  The growing trend for low income populations to standardize on a single smart mobile device as their primary means of communication seems destined to continue.  With caseloads at record levels, ensuring access to online self-service has never been as important as it is today.  If your agency’s web self-service portal isn’t mobile ready, your constituents will abandon the online service channel and seek assistance from your call-center or walk-in facility, leading to even costlier customer service.

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2.       Empower Field Workers With Mobile Productivity Tools

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Every day, your agency sends caseworkers and investigators into the field to perform client assessments, facility inspections, abuse investigations and more.  Most of this data is still collected on paper forms and later keyed into back office systems of record.  As budgets continue to tighten, we must find ways to make existing staff more productive while eliminating certain operational expenditures.  By deploying professional worker oriented mobile apps, data can be captured and transmitted securely from the field, eliminating paper forms with personally identifiable information and their associated transport, storage and destruction fees.  Mileage reimbursements can be cut as round-trips back to the home office can be reduced.  Capacity for additional site visits can be created as time previously spent re-keying data is reduced.  Billing by contracted service providers can be tracked down to the minute, eliminating rounding up to the nearest hour, effectively eliminating padded reimbursements.  Agency risk can be minimized as auditable site visit records contain GPS, time, date and even photographic data. 

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For instance, in one customer pilot example, Adobe calculated the business impact of the adoption of an enterprise mobile caseworker solution among the agency’s 300 field workers as having the power to create additional agency capacity equivalent to nearly 50 full time employees — if the agency’s current paper-based process were transformed to a mobile app experience.

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3.       Provide Mobile Apps That Enable Customer Self-Service

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As more constituents engage with your agency online, the opportunity to offer a personalized mobile app experience for your customers becomes a very real possibility.  What if you could deliver client notices securely to a mobile app or allow customers to update their living arrangements or employment status in real time? What if TANF recipients could report their work verification data or SNAP recipients could update their household size?  What if children in foster homes could better engage with their support network?  What if home caregivers could report their time with a GPS, time and date stamp to the Medicaid Waiver program?  The opportunity for richer, cheaper and more frequent client engagement through customer-focused mobile apps and the opportunity to eliminate paper-based processes exists today.

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4.       Measure the Online/Mobile User Experience

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We go to great lengths to ensure high quality customer service for in-person and call-center settings.  As more customer interaction moves online and onto mobile devices, it is absolutely critical that specialized web analytics tools are deployed to measure the online customer experience.  With an online analytics solution in place, your agency will be able to translate online customer behavior into actionable intelligence to drive optimization of your online service channel, leading to improved participation rates and more effective and efficient customer service.

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Garrick Beil has worked in Health & Human Services (HHS) information technology for over sixteen years. His role at Adobe is focused on shaping the next generation of HHS systems and agency business operations to ensure online engagement is maximized through innovative applications of mobile technology.