Miami-Dade County Makes a Connection

19 October 2011 | Jack Hersey, General Manager, U.S. Public Sector Health and Human Services, Microsoft
​Throughout a child’s tenure in the school system, a vast amount of information is generated. A school collects data on everything from attendance to classroom performance and even behavioral issues, while doctors’ offices collect details of illness and overall health over many years. But rarely, if ever, are these organizations able to easily share information that would help inform decisions about the child. By enabling the near real-time sharing of information among agencies, clinicians, educators and social workers, all partners involved in a student’s health and well-being can develop more targeted and effective services, increasing the probability that the child will successfully enter society.
Miami-Dade County is tackling this problem head on by developing a groundbreaking information exchange that, for the first time, integrates health, education and human services data into one system using Microsoft Amalga, a health intelligence platform. The Children’s Health Education and Economic Resource (CHEER) when completed will enable a seamless exchange of information to better coordinate the delivery of services and benefits to children and measure their impact. Led by a partnership among The Children’s Trust, Health Choice Network, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Ready Schools Miami and Microsoft, this exchange has the potential to revolutionize the delivery of health, education, and social services for children from birth through entry into the workforce. We feel the initiative is also in-line with President Obama and Secretary Duncan’s bold Race to the Top legislation that aims to build data systems to measure student success and inform teachers and principals of how they can improve learning. You can hear more about the program from these organizations in this video.

CHEER aims to eliminate some of the major barriers that currently prevent children and their families from receiving the best care and support. For example, a physician who suspects a developmental delay or compliance issues with medical recommendations would be able to easily access the child’s school performance information, juvenile justice information, or data from other clinical services to inform the most effective treatment plan.
Using CHEER, educators also will benefit from the ability to assess which publicly or privately-funded educational programs have the greatest impact on children’s achievement. We understand that giving educators this access to technology is critical to education change and reform. On that same note, public and private investors will be able to track the results of their investments in services such as high-quality child care, Head Start, home-visiting, and after school programs to be sure they’re investing wisely in the community and having the greatest possible impact.
To ensure that CHEER is a success, the partners will work from a shared set of performance indicators to reach a number of common goals. By the end of 2012, the goal of CHEER is to offer universal benefits eligibility and enrollment, a universal consent form for parents, a place to store, share and use personal health information through Microsoft HealthVault and physical and behavioral telemedicine consultations for students and families in the inner city and rural areas where time, travel and cost have traditionally been barriers to effective care. All of this will be compliant with Federal privacy regulations.
It may be an ambitious program but one that represents a major advance in delivering more coordinated and connected care across a region. CHEER has the potential to improve health and education, reduce costs and increase collaboration—the very same goals that we at Microsoft are working to deliver through our connected health vision.
What do you think will be the biggest impact of a coordinated system like the one in Miami-Dade? And what other regions do you think would benefit from similar systems?
Jack Hersey
General Manager, U.S. Public Sector Health and Human Services, Microsoft