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In this week’s Friday Five, MAXIMUS is reading about health outcomes for low-income adults in affluent communities, treating high-cost beneficiaries, the VA’s digital transformation, and how virtual reality could help address social isolation in aging populations.

1. Older adults with low incomes are healthier in affluent communities 

A recent study found that older, low-income adults are less likely to have chronic health conditions if they live in an affluent “commuting zone,” Health Leaders Media reports. The findings reinforce that healthier communities are healthier across the board. The researchers believe social and community factors are the primary factor, as opposed to access to healthcare services. 

2. GAO: Staff shortages, social factors barriers to treating high-cost Medicaid beneficiaries 

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report earlier this week focused on high-cost Medicaid beneficiaries. According to Fierce Healthcare, the report found a lack of valid contact information, inconsistent access to transportation, food, and housing, along with staff shortages, all contributed to making care management more difficult. A previous report found that the most expensive 5% of individuals made up nearly half of Medicaid spending.

3. Doing digital differently at VA 

In this FCW op-ed, the chief information officer of the Department of Veterans Affairs affirms his commitment to digitally transforming the VA and enhancing the user experience for veterans. Projects completed or underway include electronic health records, cloud migration, website redesign, and smart digital solutions.

4. Energy Department CIO breaks down goals for IT modernization in 2020  

As reported by Federal News Network, operational visibility, delivery excellence, innovation, and workforce development will be IT priorities for the Department of Energy in 2020. Chris “Rocky” Campione, CIO, provided these insights, along with a focus on data center consolidation, the need for a multi-cloud environment, and increasing use of tools such as artificial intelligence and robotic process automation.

5. VR can help meet the challenges of an aging population  

When you think about virtual reality, you might not think of the elderly. This Venture Beat opinion piece discusses how VR has similar results to real-world training programs, such as those designed to improve balance, can help with social isolation, and serves as a way to gather data on dementia.