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In this week’s Friday Five, Maximus is reading about challenges to collecting social determinants of health data, IRS budget requests for IT modernization, caregiver shortages, and new funding available through the Family First Prevention Services Act.

1. Top 3 data challenges to addressing the social determinants of health 

Organizations continue to struggle with data collection and utilization, despite increased awareness of social determinants of health. Healthcare IT Analytics cites the top three data challenges: lack of standardized data collection and sharing, a need to broaden research to include diverse populations, and a lack of tools and time to address patient needs.

2. How the IRS wants to modernize in the next year 

The Internal Revenue Service has asked for increased funding for IT modernization efforts in its FY2021 budget request. Federal Times reports, the IRS request includes $15 million for “live assistance” such as chatbots, AI, and live chat; $5 million for robotic process automation implementation; $15 million for new infrastructure; and $5 million for cloud migration efforts. 

3. Caregiver shortage still at ‘crisis level’  

According to WORT, Wisconsin reported earlier this week that 25% of its direct caregiver positions in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are unfilled. This constitutes an increase in unfilled positions from the 2018 count. The gap is expected to grow as the population ages. Nearly 10,000 caregivers, whose wages are impacted by federal reimbursement rates, left the healthcare industry entirely last year. Other states are experiencing similar staffing issues.

4. Improving government services in 2020 

In this FCW blog post, the author predicts changes to government customer service this year. These predictions include an emphasis on demonstrating the value of agencies/programs, an increased focus on improving customer experience, IT modernization and digital services, increased use of digital forms, eliminating barriers to customer feedback, and increased use of artificial intelligence and robotic process automation.

5. Arkansas has been approved for Family First Act funding  

Arkansas received approval from the U.S. Children’s Bureau to use federal funds to prevent the use of foster care in select child welfare cases. The Chronicle of Social Change reports that Arkansas is the third location to receive approval for preventative funding under the Family First Prevention Services Act. Utah and Washington, D.C. had their plans approved in late 2019. Nine other states plan to implement Family First this year.