Jason McRoy is the operations division director for Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services. His teams provide support for information technology, reporting and analysis, as well as content and desktop support. For the past six years, he has overseen the development and implementation of an IT road map to integrate all service delivery areas within the department and with other providers in the community.
The Ascent: Boulder County has put in place a data solution that connects community-based, government and clinical service providers. What was the impetus for it?
McRoy: There was acknowledgement that we were missing an opportunity to provide more coordinated services as an organization. Programs like child welfare and Section 8 housing serve individuals with similar needs, but they’re traditionally siloed at the state, local and national levels. We needed the ability to support a person-centered approach to well-being and self-sufficiency across the community.
Nationally, we knew there were efforts to break down barriers, so we looked at those programs as a starting point. We began to develop a practice framework that used integrated technology to help make the connections behind the scenes so agency staff can better coordinate services.
The Ascent: How do you bring together diverse providers—from hospitals to homeless shelters—under a single framework?
McRoy: The hardest piece for any community is defining the governance framework around shared data integration as well as coordination. If you’re able to start from a common understanding of what the overall goal is—achieving better outcomes for individuals and families—you can back into the mechanics of how to do it in a legally permissible way. Workflow and technology frameworks are the easy parts.
Boulder is a forward thinking, progressive community. We had a deep 10-year investment in human services strategic planning with community partners. They adopted a no-wrong-door to services approach for individuals and families, and we looked to offer solutions in a shared model. We were able to take that no-wrong-door mindset and essentially convert it into the structure for the technology code. It’s a nice response to the openness that was already here—it was ripe for the technology solution we could introduce.
The Ascent: How important is it for front-line social health professionals to access information about clinical and behavioral health needs?
McRoy: I think it’s critical. In our community, we’ve really grappled with supporting all these needs—social determinants that impact health, physical health and behavioral health—as a 3-legged stool. The more we’re able to get the right level of information and the right kind of information to the right people at the right time, the better we’re able to coordinate and create opportunities for best outcomes across all three domains.
We’re not trying to boil the ocean. There really are just a handful of points of coordination needed across service providers. We’re not sharing a preponderance of clinical data and contact notes. It’s just getting everyone on the same page with the service trajectory for an individual or family.
We’ve defined some very broad use cases for sharing information across the social-to-physical-and-behavioral connection in our community. Information important to share generally relates to understanding who the players are, whether an individual is entering or exiting a system of care, what level of need is there, and the referral loop. When we know who is working with individuals and families, what the needs are, the scale of acuity, what services are provided and accessed, we are better equipped to coordinate services.