A report published by the Governing Institute and the Center for Digital Government, in partnership with the American Public Human Services Association, identifies a shift in the delivery of health and human services. Agencies are focusing less on metrics that note how many people are being served. Rather, they are beginning to focus more on meaningful, outcomes-based care by measuring results against costs and using data and analytics to drive the decision-making process.

Titled "Health Care Policies and Practices that Work," the report draws on original research and interviews with state, city and county-level HHS directors and high-ranking administrators. The report outlines current challenges as well as emerging trends and best practices.

"With the Affordable Care Act, millions of citizens have entered the health care system, placing new demands on health and human services, providers and stakeholders," said Mark Funkhouser, Governing publisher and the former mayor of Kansas City, Mo. "New initiatives that focus on primary care and prevention, data analytics and collaboration have shown marked improvement in health outcomes for citizens as well as an overall savings in health costs. This is the best possible result for all concerned and bodes well for the future of health care in America."

Trends and best practices for moving to outcomes-based practices identified in the report include:

  • The integration of human services into health care exchanges.
  • The creation of public-private partnerships and investments in community organizations to provide prevention and early intervention services, such as a nutrition education.
  • The development of a "no wrong door" point of entry for citizens accessing services.
  • A move toward collaborating and sharing data across agencies.
  • The use of analytics to provide specific services and drive decision-making.
  • An effort to serve the unique needs of families who have experienced poverty for generations — and working to stop the cycle.
  • An effort to coordinate, rebalance and reform mental health care.
  • An increase in data security measures to prevent fraud, waste and abuse.

"This Health and Human Services special report shows that in moving to outcome-based models of care we see a transformation in healthcare services that will improve the quality of health and the lives of citizens on a national scale. said Tracy Wareing, executive director of APHSA. "Implementing proven initiatives such as health information exchanges that enable sharing of health-related information and community-based health literacy programs that invest in citizens prior to illness sets the stage for a brand new level of service delivery and results."