Better coordinating Dauphin County's Drug & Alcohol and Mental Health services first step in multi-year data integration initiative aimed at improving care for clients

HARRISBURG, PA (November 8, 2017) While it’s not uncommon for those who are suffering from addiction to also need mental health counseling, it can be challenging to coordinate treatment because two different departments provide the services.
The Dauphin County Commissioners today took the first step to end that problem by approving a contract with Deloitte Consulting to fully integrate client data collected by the county’s Human Services, including Children and Youth, Drug & Alcohol, Mental Health & Intellectual Disabilities and Agency on Aging. The entire cost of the project - $1.2 million – is fully funded by the county’s Human Services Block Grant dollars.
Specially designed software will bridge the informational barriers between the departments and allow care teams to more easily assess client needs and coordinate and track services. The integrated approach, expected to take four years to implement fully, will make it possible to track client progress, end the duplication of services and provide data on what treatment plans are most effective.
“This is about looking at the whole person and being able to coordinate all our resources to give people the help and treatment they need,’’ said Commissioner George P. Hartwick, III, who oversees Human Services. “New assessment tools will give us the analytic data on what works and how we can get the best outcomes without wasting precious resources. We believe this initiative will serve as a model for other counties.’’
As the county continues to battle the opioid epidemic, the new tools will allow caseworkers to easily monitor all services a client is receiving and track the success of treatment, including care delivered by multiple providers.
The new system eventually will work with the county’s criminal justice system – including at the time of arrest – to identify those who could benefit from immediate treatment as opposed to jail.
“If we want to keep reaching all those who need help, it’s critical that we find ways to make the most of our limited resources and make sure we’re giving our resident the assistance they need,’’ said board Chairman Jeff Haste. “Working with Deloitte to integrate our Human Services will ensure we’re putting our dollars where they need to go to reach the highest number of people.’’
Integration is also essential to meet the increased reporting demands at the state and federal level, which call for statistics showing the effectiveness and quality of services provided. Additionally, this information is critical when the county -- and the local organizations it helps – pursue grants to assist in providing services for the community.
“This board always looks for the best way to use limited tax dollars for maximum benefit to our residents, and better coordinating our Human Services agencies is critical to meeting the increased demand,’’ said Commissioner Mike Pries. “This will improve services across the board, from helping those suffering from addiction to families in need of assistance.’’