The Los Angeles (LA) County Department of Public Health works to protect health, prevent disease, and promote the health and well-being of the people of LA County. With many of its programs relying on cumbersome, outdated software systems, the
LA County Department of Public Health came under pressure to deliver new solutions but needed a way to deliver such business value quickly. To do so, the organizations chose to use Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a platform, taking advantage of its xRM capabilities
to develop specialized tools to meet the needs of its vehicle inspection program, Community Health Services division, and pharmacy. By using Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the department has met key objectives rapidly with minimal risk while greatly improving managerial
insight and easing compliance with regulations such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Los Angeles (LA) County Department of Public Health protects health, prevents disease, and promotes the health and well-being of the 12 million people of LA County.
||For the types of projects we had, if we had resorted to our traditional custom development methods, we would still be working on the initial release 18 months later. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, on the other hand, we were able to deliver
three powerful solutions to the business in that time ….
| Jim Green,
CIO, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
The organization conducts its activities through a network of public health professionals, including public health nurses who make home visits to families with communicable diseases, epidemiologists who investigate the sources of disease outbreaks, and environmental-health
specialists who ensure safe food, water, and housing conditions.
Supporting these public health professionals, who make up a key part of the organization’s staff of more than 4,000, the LA County Department of Public Health provides a range of software tools for different organizational needs. Although its preferred approach
is commercial off-the-shelf systems, the department could not meet all of its needs by using commercially available systems. In the past, the LA County Department of Public Health’s IT team custom developed many of the necessary applications from scratch.
With decreasing government budgets following the economic downturn, the department’s IT team began to look at alternatives to custom development.
“Custom development is a time-consuming, expensive, and high-risk endeavor,” says Jim Green, CIO of the LA County Department of Public Health. “We would not be certain if the software was in line with business needs and we had to ensure that we had the right
skill sets in place to continue development, which proved challenging because contractors would come and go. Because of this, I began to look for alternative approaches for getting applications into the users’ hands quickly, with lower overhead for technical
architecture and application infrastructure. We needed a way to get the business value with a lot less coding.”
While the IT team was looking at alternatives to custom development, individual departments within the LA County Department of Public Health were approaching the IT team with a range of business challenges. These challenges included:
Establishing a single solution to address illegal
food vending. The LA County Department of Public Health’s environmental health team relied on a stand-alone database to track regulatory enforcement for illegal food vendors. This database only allowed team
members to record information, however, and lacked the tools and interface that would enable staff to support all stages of case management. For instance, if a health inspector impounded a food cart, he or she would have to rely on memory and notes to track
the case through to its court date and possible reinstatement as a legal vendor. And because the database could not enforce a workflow, data integrity was at risk because staff could enter the wrong data or no data at all. Because of this, staff could potentially
not have the information needed to justify a case in court.
Automating the labeling of prescriptions in accordance with new government regulations. New regulations from the State of California required new standards in prescription labeling. The LA County Department of Public Health, however, still
relied on writing prescription labels by hand, which caused a lack of control over ensuring compliance. Because of this, the department aimed to find a system that could draw on patient records and their associated prescriptions, fill that prescription, and
then follow through with the printing of the physical label itself.
Enabling nurse workload and communicable disease tracking. Twice per year, the LA County Department of Public Health Community Health Services Division receives summaries of case rates by census tract to provide guidance for distributing
workload among public health nurses across the county’s 14 public health centers. To track their work, these public health nurses have logged their work in a variety of systems: an aging green-screen system, paper logs, spreadsheets, desktop Microsoft Access
database, and an unstable, custom web-based system. At the same time, the public health investigators in the field have relied on paper and spreadsheets to record information of new cases identified and referrals to public health nurses.
Deborah Davenport, Director of Community Health Services for the LA County Department of Public Health, says, “These varied processes and systems for recording work made comprehensive prioritization of work and workload distribution difficult for supervisors
and managers. We needed a way to track this work more accurately and efficiently.”
In addition to improving its ability to track communicable-disease information, the LA County Department of Public Health also aimed to be able to more effectively audit all interactions with patient records, in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability
and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
||With our old way of working, we would usually tell our nurses it takes six months to learn the systems. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, however, it will only take them two days.
| Deborah Davenport,
Director of Community Health Services, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
Says Green, “Many of our needs related to case management, so it made sense for us to look to a customer relationship management solution and configure it to our operation.”
The LA County Department of Public Health chose
Microsoft Dynamics CRM after Green and his team heard how well it had worked for other local-government organizations. By taking advantage of the solution’s flexibility, Green understood that he and his IT team could take the concept of customer relationship
management (CRM) even further to encompass vehicle inspection, nurse workload and communicable-disease tracking, and prescription labeling.
“What I liked about Microsoft Dynamics CRM was that it took a lot of the risk out of development,” says Green. “Microsoft Dynamics CRM has a lot of the required functionality out-of-the-box, which cut down on the amount of custom development we needed to
Currently, just fewer than 300 staff members of the LA County Department of Public Health use Microsoft Dynamics CRM every day. These staff members span the organization’s vehicle inspection program, Community Health Services division, and pharmacy.
The LA County Department of Public Health took advantage of the xRM capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to develop solutions for addressing urgent requirements in three important areas of its operation:
Vehicle inspection program.As their first project with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Green and his IT team built the vehicle inspection program (VIP) system. By using VIP, environmental-health
professionals can track enforcement activities related to illegal vending. Environmental-health professionals can also receive alerts from the system—for instance, if they need to appear in court regarding an impounded vehicle.
Pharmacy inventory and labeling.Taking advantage of the flexibility of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to support a great variety of relationships and activities, the LA County Department
of Public Health’s Pharmacy Director and IT team established the Pharmacy Inventory and Labeling System (PILS). Drawing on data from the department’s appointment-scheduling system, PILS creates patient accounts and associates their prescriptions to these accounts.
A physician or nurse, following a consistent approval workflow, can then fill that prescription by using the system. Through an integration with the organization’s commercial pharmacy system, PILS then adjusts the medication inventory whenever transactions
take place. After a pharmacist fills the prescription, PILS provides the pharmacy system with all the government-mandated information for the label and proceeds with printing.
Case management and processing.For its largest initiative with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the LA County Department of Public Health’s IT team is rolling out its Case Management
and Processing (CMaP) system. CMaP will enable public health nurses to track all their cases and the status of those cases through Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Public health investigators will also be able to use the system to track new cases of communicable diseases.
Through a business intelligence (BI) dashboard, nurse management will then be able to view the workloads of nurses. Through geographical information associated with each new case that an investigator creates, nurse management will also be able to assign nurses
to the nearest patients and identify health-related trends such as a tuberculosis outbreak in a particular county district.
By using Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the LA County Department of Public Health has been able to support a wide range of business needs and do so quickly with minimal risk. Says Green, “From code enforcement to Community Health Services and prescription labeling,
we have met important business needs with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. With these solutions, we now have higher levels of business insight and can quickly meet new government regulations.”
Cut Development Time, Deploy Rapidly
By using Microsoft Dynamics CRM as a development platform, the LA County Department of Public Health’s IT team was able to bring the VIP solution into production in only two months. The more complex applications, PILS and CMaP, took 6 months and 18 months,
respectively. “For the types of projects we had, if we had resorted to our traditional custom development methods, we would still be working on the initial release 18 months later,” says Green. “With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, on the other hand, we were able
to deliver three powerful solutions to the business in that time, with the first only taking two months.”
Ease Adoption and Training
||With the built-in audit trails in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we can capture a record of every instance someone looks at or changes a patient case record, which helps us stay in HIPAA compliance with ease.
| Dr. Alan Tomines,
Director of Clinical and Public Health Informatics, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
The Community Health Services division in particular has found the ease-of-use and resulting rapid adoption of the solution impressive. “Our public health nurses don’t have much computer experience, but they were able to pick up Microsoft Dynamics CRM and
get started right away,” says Davenport. “With our old way of working, we would usually tell our nurses it takes six months to learn the systems. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, however, it will only take them two days. Because of the solution’s ease-of-use,
nurses will be able to spend less time working with technology and more time on the needs of patients.”
Optimize Workloads, Gain Insight into Public Health
Going from multiple systems and manual processes to a single solution, the LA County Department of Health has realized a single source of truth and spurred a level of BI that it previously lacked. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM in place, the environmental-health
team now has a complete view into mobile food vendors and the public health team has a vastly improved view into the workloads of nurses and contagious diseases as they happen.
Says Davenport, “With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, I will have a view of the nurses’ workload and where the communicable diseases are. If we had an outbreak, for example, I would then be able to immediately drill down and see what district it was happening in
and what nurse was working on the case, enabling me to take the right action to help ensure public health.”
Demonstrate Superior Accountability for Public Funding
For the Community Health Services division in particular, business insight has also helped the organization practice an increased level of accountability and transparency in the use of public funds. “Because we’re a public agency that uses the county’s funds,
we need to justify our spending to the CEO and elected officials and track upturns and downturns in work to ensure that we’re getting the most efficient use of the workforce and the funding behind it,” says Davenport. “With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we will
have the tools and insight we need to know the work that needs to be done so that we can staff ourselves accordingly. We will be able to know exactly where the money is going, so we don’t have to make any guesses.”
Meet Government Regulations More Efficiently
With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the LA County Department of Public Health has gained a solution flexible enough to meet new government regulations for pill labeling and powerful auditing capabilities, helping the organization efficiently meet HIPAA compliance.
Says Dr. Alan Tomines, Director of Clinical and Public Health Informatics for the LA County Department of Public Health, “With the built-in audit trails in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we can capture a record of every instance someone looks at or changes a patient
case record, which helps us stay in HIPAA compliance with ease.”
Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a complete solution that gives you a 360-degree view of your constituents’ needs—from first contact through service fulfillment. Fast, flexible, and affordable, Microsoft Dynamics CRM streamlines important tasks,
such as constituent services, grant writing, field inspections, investigation management, case management, call-center management, campus information sharing, emergency response, and much more.
Organizations realize higher levels of efficiency with improved workflow tools that enable cross-departmental collaboration and productivity. In addition to the core functionality available out-of-the-box, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a robust
development platform to develop applications to meet the processes and needs of your organization and the departments within it.
For more information about Microsoft Dynamics, go to:
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