Maryland Moving Forward with Cloud-Based Social Services Platform
Published: September 27, 2019
Cloud ComputingGrantsHEALTH AND MENTAL HYGIENE, DEPARTMENT OF (MARYLAND)Health CareHealth ITHealth ServicesInformation TechnologyInnovationJUVENILE SERVICES, DEPARTMENT OF (MARYLAND)LABOR, LICENSING, AND REGULATION, DEPARTMENT OF (MARYLAND)Social Services
Maryland is halfway through its implementation of MD THINK, an innovative cloud-based platform that will coordinate and simplify key social services.
The Maryland Department of Human Services (DHS) is moving forward with the development of a cloud-based platform to deliver integrated health and human services programs to its citizens. DHS is about halfway through its five-year implementation process for the platform, formally known as Maryland Total Human-services Integrated Network, or MD THINK. By using this first-in-the-nation platform, Maryland agencies can gain a holistic view of citizens receiving benefits and can analyze data across applications to design better assistance programs.
MD THINK will allow DHS and Maryland’s departments of Health and Mental Hygiene, Juvenile Services, and Labor, Licensing and Regulation to share and manage data on one platform in the cloud. Specifically, case workers will be able to securely access and enter social service data from their tablets or smartphones in the field rather than traveling to an office before logging onto the system. This will prevent caseworkers from having to painstakingly take notes and enter them into the system later.
Funded by a $195 million federal grant, development of MD THINK began in 2017. The driving force behind the project was an accumulation of aging technologies that produced poor results. According to John Evans, the state’s chief information security officer at the time, case workers would have to switch between six different systems just to support one case.
Following an evaluation of various cloud options, DHS chose to build the platform using Amazon Web Services (AWS). “AWS is far ahead of everyone else in the cloud space, from a functionality, security, and cost perspective—so the decision was easy,” said Evans.
The centerpiece of the new system is the Child Juvenile & Adult Management System, or CJAMS, which will run as a single application for Maryland’s child welfare, juvenile justice, and adult protective services. “Before CJAMS, people are going into the field and they’re coming back and writing the paper,” said Subramanian Muniasamy, chief technology officer for DHS. “Now they have an iPad, take a picture or type in what they have directly, so there’s no missing information.”
The goal for the state is to introduce CJAMS to all 23 counties plus the city of Baltimore by the end of 2019. By 2021, state officials aim to make MD THINK fully operational. This would include integrating the eligibility and enrollment processes, child support services, and the health benefit exchange.