Oregon Department of Human Services Director's Message
October 10, 2008 DHS Director's messages on the web
To: All DHS employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., director
Good news in turbulent times
"We can lick gravity, but sometimes the paperwork is overwhelming."
~Wernher von Braun

These are turbulent times and we can all use some good news. That's why it's so nice to be able to write to you today about some of the results we're starting to see from our efforts to enhance our ability to assist people to become independent, healthy and safe.

All of us want to improve the way we do business so we can enhance the quality of services we provide Oregonians and the outcomes experienced by our clients. For the past year we have been planning and learning methods to do just that, and those efforts are now starting to bear fruit.

We are saving time, reducing costs and doing a better job of serving clients. Recent examples of how we've done this include a streamlined food stamp application process and reducing costs within Medicaid by $6 million while still maintaining the same level of health care provided to clients.

The CAF Self-Sufficiency staff have designed a new process for food stamp applications that is showing promising results in its first branch office tests. The new process has cut the wait time between a client's initial contact with DHS and the client's intake appointment from seven days to one day, without compromising service quality or accuracy.

The Self-Sufficiency staff also have designed a process to reduce wait times for clients reapplying for services from a maximum of 25 days to three days. The steps involved in the reapplication process have dropped from 25 to six.

Another example comes from the Office of Payment Accuracy and Recovery (OPAR), which discovered that a significant number of clients who were enrolled in Medicaid-funded managed care plans through DHS also had private insurance. This gave us the opportunity to save money by seeing to it that DHS picks up only those costs not paid for by the private plans. The end result is that in six months OPAR has reduced costs by more than $6 million, while ensuring our clients still get the health care they need. This saves money that can be used to help serve others in need of assistance.

Each of these improvements is a significant achievement that will make a positive difference for the people we serve. And, these changes are excellent examples of ways our Transformation efforts can help us better serve customers, save money and reduce barriers to efficiency. I believe we are just touching the surface of the potential well of improvements we can achieve for our clients, partners and employees.

Most importantly, all of these changes are being directed by the employees and others most closely involved with these processes. People's voices are being heard, clients' and employees' needs are being met, and DHS is becoming a better organization.

And what better time to take these actions than in an environment where funding is in short supply, staff are overloaded, and we know more people are going to need our services. These and future process improvements will enable us to build the capacity that is so desperately needed right now.

As we proceed with more process improvements during the coming months I count on you to share your ideas and find better ways of doing business. Everyone will benefit.


DHS on the web