Oregon Department of Human Services Director's Message
April 30, 2010 DHS Director's messages on the Web
To: All DHS employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., director

The relentless pursuit

"Freedom lies in being bold."
~Robert Frost

During the Department of Human Services and Oregon Health Authority community budget forums this spring, we have been talking about how our continual improvement effort -- the Transformation Initiative -- is paying off. We're serving clients better, we're being better partners, we are working more efficiently and effectively and we're saving money.

It's a great story to tell. Over the past two years we have worked on more than 100 improvement initiatives creating savings or benefits of more than $53 million. This work is critical in helping us to manage through the current recession and continue improving services to seniors, children, families and disabled Oregonians. It also provides the foundation for the new Oregon Health Authority.

This week I want to highlight some key successes:

Better, smarter, faster client services: When people are given permission -- and the expectation -- to be innovative and bold, amazing things can happen. We've all seen examples of policies and procedures that simply don't make any sense and make things more cumbersome for our clients. For example, about one-third of family members of children who receive mental health services report they had to coordinate with three or more child-serving systems plus mental health. For local communities and providers, that means duplication of services and paperwork, competing regulations and isolated funding. For families it means more delay, more hassle, and less chance their children will get the help they need.

Kimberly Kienle and her daughter Hailey
Kimberly Kienle and her daughter Hailey

To tackle this problem, the Children, Adults and Families and Addictions and Mental Health divisions are using continual improvement principles for the Children's Wraparound Initiative. We are already having great success. Hailey Kienle is receiving wraparound services in Benton County. Her mother Kimberly says, "At one point there were 10 or 12 highly trained professionals working with my child. Everyone brought a different expertise to my daughter. They just kept working with her and I wasn't alone any more." You can find more about this family's story here: http://www.dhs.state.or.us/communityforum/stories/005.html

Better partnerships. An example of how we are becoming better partners can be found in the Seniors and People with Disabilities Division (SPD). Using a new and improved process, over the past month the agency has released more than $4 million in backlogged payments to nursing home providers. The remaining backlog will be cleared in May, sending an additional $2 million to our provider partners.

Better stewardship of resources. In the Division of Medical Assistance Programs, we have identified a way to save some $15 million per year by ensuring that DHS is not charged when Medicaid clients have third-party insurance that should be the primary payer for care.

These specific examples are part of the larger culture change happening across DHS and OHA. And the attitude of bringing a relentless pursuit of improvement to our work is helping guide us as we build the two connected agencies.

We would not be able to do this work and make these improvements without the front-line employees who are leading this charge. To learn more about our continuous improvements through transformation, please click here: www.oregon.gov/DHS/transformation

DHS on the web