Technology makes it increasingly feasible to connect and leverage disparate information systems to better our world. One example is the movement to connect criminal justice with healthcare systems. We sat down recently with Tanya Stauffer, our Senior Director of Government Solutions at Analysts, to talk about connecting Criminal Justice to Health. About the value of this connection to both domains. And about how systems integration and secure information sharing makes it possible.

A Conversation with JPS Leader Tanya Stauffer

A growing number of initiatives are being launched to align public healthcare and criminal justice systems. What’s driving this growth and why?

Two key factors are driving this growth. When released from incarceration, many individuals don’t have adequate access to healthcare they need. And individuals under community supervision often lack the medical or mental health services that enable them to succeed. States and care providers are launching initiatives to close these gaps in continuity of care for recently released offenders.

Policy and procedure, multidisciplinary collaboration, and other business changes are clearly a large part of these initiatives. What role does technology play?

Technology enables integration of the various data sets needed to support these initiatives. But technology alone doesn’t solve the problem. People do. Connecting criminal justice to health requires technology along with deep experience in how to apply that technology to address unique issues for both the criminal justice and healthcare domains.

Sharing healthcare and criminal information safely and effectively across different systems is tough. How do you keep information secure and portable?

The critical success factor in information sharing initiatives is to empower data owners to decide who sees what information and when. No sets of laws, statutes, or regulations are static. Change in security governance is an ongoing need. It’s important to confer with data owners to automate the processes that occur manually today. The systems merely implement in software what business and data owners currently perform via phone or paper.

Is it working? Are these initiatives achieving their goals?

Some jurisdictions are seeing positive results in integrating healthcare and criminal justice information. Unfortunately, many jurisdictions are still not comfortable discussing their data security needs and information sharing policies with their peers “on the other side of the fence.” There is a perception that the criminal justice community will not properly handle personal health information. In many cases, the first step is for these business owners to start small, sharing key information, and then build the information sharing ecosystem from there.

How are these initiatives being funded?

Most justice-to-health information sharing initiatives at the state and local level are starting with federal funding. After gaining some initial traction within jurisdictions, organizations can then move to a self-funding model, purely from cost savings.

What will be the impact of proposed changes in federal healthcare?

The proposed changes in federal healthcare should not impact the justice-to-health information sharing focus. It appears that federal funding to prevent and end opioid use will continue, as will the desire to allow states and local jurisdictions to determine the best means of care for justice-involved individuals. Many jurisdictions and private healthcare providers are faced with these urgent challenges today, so they’re not waiting for confirmed changes in federal healthcare programs before taking action locally. Organizations that proceed today with these initiatives can make a positive impact on public safety and community health.

After healthcare and criminal justice systems are aligned, what’s next?

There is no shortage of challenges in addressing citizen safety and community health. The lessons learned in integrating healthcare and criminal justice can also be applied readily to housing, transportation, education, and serving the needs of the veteran community. State agencies can address these issues in a stepwise fashion and show real progress in serving their citizens.

How Analysts Can Help

The Analysts team helps states and care providers close the technology gap between their criminal justice and healthcare systems. Our technology expertise is strengthened by many years of experience addressing issues unique to the criminal justice and healthcare domains. We are systems integration and data security experts. We have partnered with government agencies for decades. And we are committed to the same outcomes you pursue – to make the world a better and safer place for our citizens.

Connecting Criminal Justice to Healthcare

Mass incarceration, the opioid epidemic, our current mental health system, and other factors have contributed to a disproportionately high need for medical care within our criminal justice-involved population. Mental and behavioral health, chronic physical conditions, chemical dependency – these and other healthcare issues are a challenge to address while individuals are incarcerated. Even more challenging is our ability to support these individuals with uninterrupted care upon release.

Why is this important? It’s good for the individuals and their families – and it’s good for our community. Recent DHHS studies show that continuity of care can result in reduced overall health care costs and hospitalizations, reduced rates of re-incarceration, and improved employment, housing, and family support outcomes.  (Source: ASPE Issue Brief – April 2016, DHHS.)

Corrections and healthcare agencies are working together to achieve this continuity of care. But many obstacles exist. Policies and procedures vary by state and by correctional facility. And existing systems and technology were not designed to support integration of healthcare processes across agencies. However, a shared commitment is clear. To improve healthcare for incarcerated and reentering individuals by connecting them with insurance, treatment, and preventive care.

About Tanya

As the senior director of our government solutions practice, Tanya manages client relationships, provides thought leadership and strategic consulting, and has led numerous projects for our public sector clients throughout her 15+ years with Analysts.

Tanya advises clients on technical approaches for criminal justice-to-healthcare systems integration, statewide justice information exchange, statewide justice portals, sex offender registry integration, computerized criminal history system integration, automated fingerprint identification system integration, and successful strategies to implement justice information sharing at the state level. She has a deep understanding of government funding opportunities. And she has experience in the adoption of national standards such as Global Reference Architecture (GRA), National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) and Global Federated Identity and Privilege Management (GFIPM).

Tanya serves on the Board of Directors of the Integrated Justice Information Systems Institute (IJIS). IJIS represents industry’s leading companies who collaborate with local, state, tribal, and federal agencies to provide technical assistance, training, and support services for information exchange and technology initiatives (www.ijis.org).

Tanya holds a Master’s degree in Business Management from Johns Hopkins University, a Master’s Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University, and a BA in English/Communications from James Madison University. She is also a Project Management Professional (PMP), certified by the Project Management Institute (PMI).