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Department of Health Services

For Immediate Release

Sonoma County Department of Health Services Wins Distinguished Financial Times Intelligent Business Award

Santa Rosa,CA | November 20, 2019

Sonoma County Department of Health Services (DHS) was recently honored with the distinguished international Financial Times Intelligent Business Award for its groundbreaking ACCESS (Accessing Coordinated Care to Enable Self-Sufficiency) Sonoma County Initiative.

“Congratulations to the Sonoma County Department of Health Services and the Safety Net Collaborative for their recognition by the Financial Times,” said David Rabbitt, Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “As ACCESS continues to garner national and international recognition, it further demonstrates the commitment made by the County of Sonoma to DHS and the safety net collaborative to provide coordinated services for the most vulnerable individuals in our community. Sonoma County is proud of this significant achievement.”

The goal of ACCESS Sonoma County is to identify the most vulnerable residents in the community—those experiencing ongoing unemployment, homelessness and housing insecurity, behavioral health and substance use issues, and who also may receive services that intersect with agencies in the criminal justice system—and help them receive better coordinated care and the support they need. 

ACCESS is an effort between the County’s safety net collaborative made up of Health Services, Human Services, Community Development Commission, Probation, Child Support Services departments and criminal justice partners. Together, the safety net collaborative works holistically supporting clients with complex needs that ultimately improve their health and economic stability.

The safety net collaborative began addressing the problem by concurrently assembling a flexible, interdepartmental multidisciplinary team and developing a comprehensive data-sharing support system for enhanced care coordination.

ACCESS members worked with IBM to integrate its safety net systems via a hub that enables case workers, clinicians, housing staff, probation officers and others across various departments to view all services a client is receiving. This holistic view facilitates better data sharing leading to enhanced coordinated care and improved outcomes.

Forms designed by SimpliGov enable data to be captured and used in a cloud-based app that combines several IBM services. The tools, Connect360 and Infosphere Master Data Management, take data from separate sources while IBM Watson Care Manager acts as an interface to manage individual cases. The system ensures that public service agencies work together and are better coordinated to care for vulnerable people.

Additionally, the mobile aspect of the ACCESS system allows the County and community partners to work with clients out in the field, and more importantly, it allows the client the ability to actively participate in their care plan using the innovative technology.

“The Safety Net Collaborative has achieved remarkable success with the ACCESS Initiative as a result of our continued coordination, dedication to improving services, and commitment to innovation,” said Barbie Robinson, Director, Sonoma County Department of Health Services. “We are honored to be recognized by the Financial Times for our work on the ACCESS initiative which furthers our mission to promote, protect and attain optimal health, recovery and well-being for all in Sonoma County.

The documented benefits of the ACCESS project have shown overall improved health and well-being for our community’s most vulnerable residents. The implications of these successes demonstrate more equitable, effective and efficient approaches to understand and address critical needs of residents.

Winning this award is a significant achievement for the County as ACCESS was recognized for its innovative work in a wide field of applicants from around the world and from various sectors, including private industry. It is also the first year the public sector was included in these awards and required the County to participate in a competitive and rigorous submission process. 

The Financial Times Intelligent Business Award follows the 2019 Intelligent Business report which explores the convergence of legal and professional services with data and technology, and the resulting impactful outcomes for business. The report seeks to take a below-the-surface look at how ‘convergence’ is changing business processes and ultimately notions of where and how to find and drive economic value. Learn more about the award and the report here.

This is now the third award ACCESS has won this year. ACCESS also won two awards in spring, IBM Watson Health Advantage Award and the 2019 Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo).