Official Early Intervention Taskforce Report
Illinois Department of Human Services
Division of Community Health & Prevention
Bureau of Early Intervention


Recommendations:

Recommendation #1
The Bureau of Early Intervention must design and implement a web-based data management system.

Background

The structure, age and design of Illinois' data system preclude "real-time" data collection, analysis and use. Illinois' data system is a server-based system. This means that data is entered into computers at or near local field offices. That data is uploaded to local servers every few days and the data stored on the server is uploaded to a central server in Springfield every night. This delay in data collection makes it difficult to meaningfully use the data at the local level.

Illinois' data management system is more than 10 years old. While the system has been adequately maintained, it has not evolved to meet the demands of an increasingly data dependent federal program.

Rationale for Recommendation

  • State Part C Early Intervention Programs are becoming increasingly dependent on highly accurate and quickly accessible data to assess program quality, inform program decisions and actions, analyze costs and maximize efficiencies, and improve overall program performance.
  • Today's need to communicate more effectively with referral sources, the child's medical home, CFCs and other case management agencies (i.e. DCFS, DSCC) involved with the child and family, related service providers and potential payers demands a data management system that is highly secure and yet easily accessible, user-friendly and flexible.
  • The Illinois EI Program's current data management system is antiquated, inflexible, inaccessible to anyone except limited EI personnel and unable to effectively or efficiently collect, manage, share or analyze program data. Moreover, current program procedures, including monitoring and evaluation, rely heavily on outdated, unreliable, expensive and time-consuming practices (i.e. mailing, faxing, re-faxing, "phone tag", onsite visits) due to the constraints and limitations of the current data management system.
  • The cost to maintain the EI Program's current data management and claims processing system(s) is prohibitive. While the design and implementation of a new data management and claims processing system would require an upfront cost to the EI Program, the efficiencies achieved as a result of its implementation would, at a minimum, neutralize that cost and would result in annual savings to the program for ongoing system maintenance. Illinois can reference data system changes in both Tennessee and Kentucky that support this assertion.

Required Actions

  • The Illinois General Assembly and the Governor's Office must assure that EI Program funding is sufficient to support the upfront cost associated with the design and implementation of a comprehensive data management system. A part of this assurance may include the formation of a workgroup of the Illinois Interagency Council on Early Intervention designed to explore opportunities for public (state and federal) as well as private funding.
  • The Bureau of Early Intervention will monitor federal grant opportunities as a result of the passage of health care reform for the availability of funding to support the design and implementation of a new data management system.
  • The Department of Human Services should release a bid for a comprehensive E.I. data management system.
  • Until such time as (and in preparation for) a web-based data management system can be implemented, the Bureau of Early Intervention should examine the current system to identify efficiencies and improvements in communication and technology that may be undertaken more immediately.
  • The Bureau of Early Intervention will coordinate with the Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), concerning the movement towards electronic health records.