Arkansas taps IBM smart cities solution for healthcare system overhaul

Thu, 2013-04-18 16:12 -- Jesse Berst

This news from IBM described below illustrates several important trends:

  • Health and human services heavily impact livability. Health and human services are an often overlooked but increasingly important part of the smart cities equation. Cities that can improve this function will have great appeal.
  • An enterprise architecture is a vital foundation. The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) is using a service-oriented architecture (SOA) to integrate 30 different systems. Switching to an enterprise architecture is often a necessary first step before a city can start rolling out applications for different departments.
  • Single sign-on for multiple programs. Arkansas citizens will eventually have a single point of access to determine their eligibility across multiple services. By the same token, DHS has a total view of each client in a single application (instead of 30 different apps).

The principles underlying this initiative apply to virtually all smart city functions. -- Jesse Berst


The Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) is taking a first step toward modernizing the way it delivers social and healthcare services to state residents by adopting advanced technologies in IBM's smart cities portfolio.

Incorporating data analytics, social program management functionality and advanced security capabilities, the department is looking to the new system to reduce cumbersome processes that exist across numerous and disparate information silos.

"This will be DHS' first step in transforming an IT infrastructure that is composed of more than 30 discrete system silos in an aging architecture," said Dick Wyatt , chief information officer for Arkansas DHS. "Having a total view of our clients in one application — using the latest technology — will provide DHS with the ability to better manage the services provided. In addition, it will give DHS the ability to react more timely and efficiently to the many changes that are occurring and will continue to occur in the human services and healthcare arena."  

The initiative will incorporate a services-oriented architecture to fully integrate all DHS programs and relevant programs from other state departments into a single reusable and scalable platform. It is intended to support a wide array of social programs -- Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and the State Children's Health Insurance Program are examples.

That way Arkansas citizens will have a single point of access for determining benefit eligibility and will only have to share information about a change of circumstance once, no matter how many of the programs they participate in.

At the heart of Arkansas' new system is the IBM Curam Social Program Management Platform, an industry-specific and citizen-centric, self-service software solution that help citizens navigate social programs.solution with built-in subject matter expertise. The state is also deploying Cognos business intelligence software, Tivoli security solutions, DB2, Infosphere and Rational capabilities.  All the software will run on IBM Power Systems

IBM is working with other states, including Maryland and Minnesota, on similar initiatives.