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In this week’s Friday Five, Maximus is reading about the Social Security Administration initiative to improve customer experience, escalated unemployment rates, growth in telehealth options, and a call for targeted population health interventions.

1. Social Security Administration seeks to solicit more feedback from customers

The Social Security Administration (SSA) wants feedback from customers and stakeholders as part of a broader effort to improve the customer experience across the federal government. According to NextGov, the SSA has released an initial plan to gather feedback including millions of surveys, focus groups, user tests, and interviews. The proposal will be accepting comments for 30 days.

2. Another 1.5 million file for unemployment as states continue to reopen economies

Despite a larger than expected bump in the employment rate in May, another 1.5 million individuals made first-time claims for unemployment last week. NPR reports that the number of continued unemployment claims has dropped, but more than 20 million claims were still filed. The unemployment rate is expected to be remain higher than 9% at the end of 2020.

3. VA expanding telehealth care to rural cancer patients with new grant

The Department of Veterans Affairs has received a $4.5 million grant to help it launch a teleoncology center, designed to help reach rural residents battling cancer. According to FedScoop, the specifics of how to best reach rural residents are still in development, but the program aims to better connect cancer patients to additional information about clinical trials and genetic counseling.

4. Targeted population health interventions will boost COVID-19 outcomes 

Individuals with chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension are more likely to suffer severe outcomes from COVID-19. According to Health IT Analytics, this has led to a call for targeted population health interventions aimed at this high-risk group. To do so, health systems will need to use and share data to help identify and focus interventions for at-risk communities. This will, in turn, ensure resources are allocated to the areas where they will make the most impact.

5. Digital strategies prove critical for future growth amid COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID pandemic has driven home the need for healthcare organizations to provide platforms for digital care. MobiHealthNews reports that telehealth use is expected to rise by more than 60% this year. Other anticipated areas of growth include remote monitoring, contact tracing, and digital mental health services.