October 18, 2022
The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) remains committed to improving operations to better serve and meet the needs of Maine people. A major component of these efforts is leveraging technologies to upgrade outdated systems, transition paper-based processes online, improve customer service, increase transparency, and inform data-driven policies and service delivery.
The Department has completed several major technology projects to improve access to services and benefits for Maine people, including:
DHHS Data Dashboards
The DHHS By the Numbers Dashboard, launched in August 2022, displays current data on services provided by the Department’s 3,400 workers in its eight Offices and two psychiatric hospitals. These data sets include information about assistance provided to Maine families and individuals, as well as updates about health care coverage and service provision. For example:
- 162,790 people were receiving help to purchase food through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program as of August 1, 2022
- StrengthenME has supported 67,211 unique interactions with Maine people to provide stress management, wellness and resiliency resources in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as of May 1, 2022; and
- 4,824 children were supported by child care subsidies in July 2022.
The “By the Numbers” Dashboard is one of several new dashboards the Department has created and publicly posted over the past three years. For example, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Dashboards have become widely used by the public and press, while the Office of Child and Family Services posts key metrics on child care, child welfare, and children’s behavioral health.
These dashboards are complemented by dozens of snapshots and reports on activity that can be found in each Office’s section of the DHHS website.
My Maine Connection
In July 2022, the Office for Family Independence upgraded its benefits application system My Maine Connection (MMC) as an Integrated Online Services portal, replacing the legacy MMC system. The upgraded MMC portal, which was supported through a combination of State and Federal funds, includes several major improvements that make it easier for clients to apply for benefits, including SNAP, TANF, and MaineCare, and streamline the process of reviewing eligibility for DHHS staff. These improvements and new features include:
- A “mobile first” platform that is equally user-friendly on a smart phone or tablet as on a computer.
- The ability for clients to upload verification documents directly to their account.
- “Dynamic question flow,” which adjusts questions and fields based on previous answers and the benefit programs at issue, saving clients time and avoiding confusion.
- A connection to Federal databases to verify certain elements of a Medicaid (MaineCare) case in real time.
- Integration with the Department’s Automated Client Eligibility System (ACES) so clients can connect their MMC account to current data in ACES for easy review, validation, and updating.
In June 2020, the Office of Aging and Disability Services (OADS) replaced the legacy Maine Adult Protective Services Information System (MAPSIS) that dated to 2004 with the Evergreen client data system. Evergreen tracks and organizes client data and activities for the Adult Protective Services (APS) program using key features including:
- The ability for APS staff to more easily locate historical information related to clients, due to Evergreen’s client-focused organizational structure.
- Structured decision-making features via intake and safety assessments to enhance the program’s consistency, accuracy and equity.
Capabilities for data collection, aggregation, and reporting, allowing for review of patterns, trends, and quality assurance practices that did not exist in the prior system.
Based on the successful implementation of Evergreen, DHHS is planning to expand its use with the development of a new client data module to support the Developmental Disability and Brain Injury programs, replacing the Enterprise Information System (EIS), which will be deployed in the coming year. This will be a significant development for OADS systems, bringing the APS and DDBI programs into one, combined client database.
In January 2022 the Office of Child and Family Services (OCFS) launched the Katahdin system as a critical piece of DHHS’ efforts to improve Maine’s child welfare system. Katahdin replaces the outdated Maine Automated Child Welfare Information System that was developed and implemented in the late 1990s and was funded through, and meets mandated standards for, the federal Administration for Children and Families.
Katahdin supports OCFS’ operations for investigation, case management, foster and adoption services, independent living services, reporting, and financial processing, and provides OCFS staff and external stakeholders – including mandated reporters such as law enforcement, teachers, and health care providers – a more modern system to meet the needs of their challenging work. Some of the features of the Katahdin system include:
- An online portal for mandated reporters to report non-emergency cases of abuse and neglect
- Client-centric system that reduces duplicate data entry
- An online application system for resource parents
- Electronic records management
- Mobile-friendly platform that case managers can use while in the field
The Office of the Health Insurance Marketplace (OHIM) launched CoverME.gov in October 2021 as part of Maine’s transition to a state-based Health Insurance Marketplace for affordable health coverage.
CoverME.gov, the website for the Maine Health Insurance Marketplace, is designed to help Maine people find affordable health coverage, compare qualified health insurance plans that include a comprehensive set of benefits and coverage, and apply for help to lower the cost of health coverage. CoverME.gov also includes the capability to notify users if they qualify for free or low-cost coverage from MaineCare (Maine’s Medicaid program) or CubCare (the Children’s Health Insurance Program).
Another feature of CoverME.gov is the Plan Compare tool that provides users with information about eligibility for financial assistance and helps them evaluate plan options. The Plan Compare tool is now available for Maine people to preview plans for 2023 ahead of the Open Enrollment period starting on Nov. 1, 2022.
The Made for Maine Health Coverage Act, which was passed by the Maine Legislature in 2020, authorized the creation of a State-run Marketplace. This allows Maine to tailor the shopping experience for Mainers, and to target outreach efforts to enroll even more residents in affordable coverage.
In the 2021 Open Enrollment, between November 1, 20201 and January 15, 2022 over 66,000 Maine people used CoverME.gov to choose an affordable health plan, a 10 percent increase over 2021 and reversing declines in Marketplace plan selections since 2017.
Care Systems for Psychiatric Centers
In addition to the technology upgrades that DHHS has already implemented, a number of improvements are forthcoming to the systems for patient management and care used by Riverview Psychiatric Center (RPC) and Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center (DDPC). The first of these to launch will be upgrading the hybrid system of paper and digital records currently in place at RPC and DDPC to a fully digital electronic medical records (EMR) system for both inpatient and outpatient care. This upgrade will also allow for the implementation of EMR for Maine CDC Public Health Nursing.