Posted Sunday, September 9, 2012 by Team Northwoods

The Next Generation of Human Services

The opening plenary session of this year’s ISM conference (IT Solutions Management for Human Services) featured speakers from very different backgrounds. However, they all focused on one overarching theme: new ways of thinking bring new opportunity.

Real Time Solutions

Lou Polzella, ISM President, and Director, Information Technology Services, kicked the session off by noting that human services agencies are in exciting and fast-paced times where new technology and solutions for human services agencies will be critical to providing real time service and answers to clients.

New Infrastructure

Next to the podium was Tracy Wareing, Executive Director, American Public Human Services Association (APHSA), who outlined APHSA’s Pathways effort to transform how health and human services are provided in America by envisioning a system that is focused on a strong technology infrastructure, results, sustainable outcomes for families, and client engagement.

Superior Service

Similarly, Saleem Sayani, Chief Information Officer, Office of Information Technology, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Maryland, recognized that human services clients are not always physically in the agency and that superior service will require options like self-service portals, technology, and community partnerships.

Seamless Client Experience

From the federal side, Julie Boughn, Deputy Director, Center for Medicaid (CMS) and CHIP, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said agencies have a massive opportunity to design systems that enable a seamless experience for clients in health and human services. As an example, Boughn talked about how people use online tools to plan their entire vacation without leaving their home or picking up the phone. CMS wants to create that type of opportunity in its programs, according to Boughn.

Where Northwoods Fits In

Northwoods is thrilled about this trend. For one reason, we have existing products and products in the works that precisely align with the focus of the ISM speakers.

  1. Our new mobile solution – Compass® CoPilot – enables social workers to leave the confines of their desk and provide instantaneous service and information to their clients.
  2. Our Appointments® Kiosk allows clients to self-check-in for scheduled appointments, reducing lines and staff time.
  3. (Spoiler alert!) It’s too soon to share any details, but we’re prototyping a tool that will help agencies truly understand their productivity.
COO Chris Carlson talks about Compass CoPilot at the 2012 ISM conference.


But more importantly, Northwoods believes in our long-standing mission to revolutionize the delivery of human services.

Our productivity solutions are designed to allow agencies to do what they do best: take care of people. At the end of the day, that’s the greatest opportunity for any human services agency.

Here at Northwoods, we can’t wait to be a part of the next generation of human services.