After attending my second Medicaid Enterprise Systems Conference, both as a vendor participant and a speaker, I left thinking, “We can make a difference, but we have a long way to go”.  Changes in the Medicaid space are inevitable and they are happening.  We heard a lot of talk about big data, cloud computing, health information exchanges, mobility services.  What does all of that mean?  It means BIG dollars, but does it mean BIG changes too, and how do those changes help people?  So when we are implementing a new system, what should we be thinking about?

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)  has a goal to achieve high quality health care system along with improved care at lower costs and improved health.  We should be influencing the state Medicaid agencies to continue thinking about how all of this new technology is connected to truly improve quality of care for its’ Medicaid members.  I wonder how a $300 million Medicaid system make its’ people healthier.  The answer is the system does not make the people healthier, but the strategies and implementation of those strategies based on the available technology can make a difference.   As Medicaid influencers, we must work towards leveraging the information we can gain from the systems to be creative and intentional in driving toward the goal of improved population health. It is exciting to bring in new technology and make things faster, but if we are not really making changes to proactively influence member health, then we are spending a lot of money to an already struggling health care system.

As I was presenting with my state counterpart at the office, it became apparent through head nodding during our presentation that the system issues such as RFPs, contracts, implementation, policy changes, and system change orders often become the focus of the Medicaid Enterprise rather than the vision of healthcare improvement through better, faster access to health care metrics to drive health management decisions.