Connecting Human Services Across the State of North Dakota

Published on 31-May-2011

Validated on 12 Nov 2013

"We are using IBM Initiate to make sure that we are reducing the number of duplicates that are coming in from our eligibility system and being pushed into our MMIS system. In addition, we have found all kinds of other uses for it. Right now we are also integrating it in our child welfare systems, which will connect it to several of the services with the department of human services. The State of North Dakota has seen the product as holding a lot of value for other uses." - Jenny Witham, Director of Information Technology Services Division, North Dakota Department of Human Services

North Dakota Department of Human Services

Government, Healthcare

Deployment country:
United States

Database Management, Information Governance, Optimizing IT


The North Dakota Department of Human Services is leveraging a department-wide Master Client Index as part of its new Medicaid Management Information System and internal Client Information Sharing System to improve eligibility and enrollment processes, promote information sharing and improve service delivery.

Business need:
Client information is locked in departmental systems that have been in place for decades. These information silos impede information sharing and process improvements.

The Master Client Index creates a complete view of a citizen across DHS, Medicaid and other state programs administered by the Department. DHS can improve service delivery by identifying the citizen across systems in a more timely manner.

- Improved quality of service - Streamlined workflow and eligibility process - Secure and private information sharing - Ongoing ROI with future integrations

Case Study

The North Dakota Department of Human Services (DHS) helps vulnerable North Dakotans of all ages maintain or enhance their quality of life through Medicaid, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Child Welfare, Child Support Enforcement, and services related to Aging, Developmental Disabilities, Vocational Rehabilitation and Mental Health and Substance Abuse. It is the first Department to take advantage of the new State Master Client Index (MCI) that was deployed by the State Information Technology Department. The MCI is part of North Dakota’s long-term vision and plan to strategically use information technology to improve service delivery and efficiently use resources across departments including DHS, Commerce, Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and Corrections.

Challenges and roadblocks
Like many other government agencies, the North Dakota Department of Human Services is limited in its ability to share electronic information across programs. Client and enrollment data is locked in systems that have been in place for decades and effectively serve very specific purposes. Sharing information in this environment requires manual processes or point-to-point system interfaces, which are costly and difficult to maintain.

This inability to effectively share information is a challenge for State Health and Human Services agencies across the U.S. It limits their ability to improve program management and streamline workflow in an effort to reduce costs and improve customer service. It also jeopardizes compliance with emerging e-Health initiatives that require secure mechanisms to interact with clients and private sector providers for health information exchange and improved client outcomes.

The need
The North Dakota government is undertaking two significant IT projects to solve these challenges and enable better information sharing across DHS programs including:

  • Medicaid Systems Project: Replace the outdated Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS) using the new Medicaid Information Technology Architecture (MITA). The new MMIS will include a pharmacy point of sale (POS) system and a decision support system/data warehouse (DSS/DW). It will also be a trusted data store to which other DHS systems will feed and obtain information about clients.
  • Client Information Sharing System (CISS): Provide a means to create a single client view across DHS services and programs, including MMIS, with a key component being the creation of a single Master Client Identifier (MCI). Through a new combined user interface, CISS provides access to information from three data sources currently supporting the child welfare data system including Child Protective Services, the Single Plan of Care System and Foster Care. CISS will also enable the sharing of eligibility information with the new MMIS.

Jenny Witham, director of Information Technology Services Division at North Dakota DHS, says, “By linking the data to create a single view of our clients, we can improve our case management services and improve our understanding of the services we provide and the outcomes we are seeing. This is a wonderful opportunity.”

IBM® Initiate® Master Data Service® is the master client index that serves as the state-wide data hub for these two projects supporting 1.2 million records across nine data sources for the State of North Dakota DHS. It supports multiple projects by delivering cross-program client identification for a variety of needs including:
  • Medicaid: Provides real-time search and identification across MMIS and eligibility systems to reduce creation of duplicate client records, improve client management and reduce disjointed eligibility segments.
  • Child Welfare: Enables real-time client identification across Children and Family Services to streamline the intake process and reduce data entry requirements.
  • Department of Public Instruction (DPI): Partnership between DHS and DPI to automatically match students enrolled in SNAP or TANF to identify those eligible for free or reduced lunch programs.
  • State Longitudinal Data Study: Newly funded project to capture and store student data from Department of Public Instruction to enable longitudinal view of the student over the course of their education. Objective is to provide outcome measures for education and training efforts in North Dakota.

Reducing duplicate data entries
The master client index creates a single view of the client to improve eligibility management, increase cross-program enrollment, and measure program effectiveness. North Dakota is enjoying numerous benefits on its path to a connected DHS, including:
  • Improved quality of service: DHS will better understand how benefits and services are utilized across programs and will offer additional services to qualified clients.
  • Streamlined workflow and eligibility process: Case managers will identify existing clients as well as leverage and verify information instead of creating a duplicate record.
  • Secure and private information sharing: Client privacy will be protected with controlled and authorized access to designated information.
  • Improved understanding of benefit utilization: With a complete view of clients, the research department will better understand participation across and within programs.
  • Laying the foundation for future integration: DHS and other state agencies can easily develop interfaces to the MCI and integrate data from other sources, allowing the State to realize ongoing return on investment.
  • Support e-health initiatives: The MCI will support health information exchange and improved client outcomes by sharing information with clients and providers.
  • Understand population and workforce trends: As more departments tie into the MCI for program management, commerce can create economic development initiatives.

Witham adds, “We are using Initiate to make sure that we are reducing the number of duplicates that are coming in from our eligibility system and being pushed into our MMIS system. In addition, we have found all kinds of other uses for it. Right now we are also integrating it in our child welfare systems, which will connect it to several of the services with the department of human services. The State of North Dakota has seen the product as holding a lot of value for other uses.”

For more information
To learn more about IBM Initiate software, please contact your IBM marketing representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website:

For more information on North Dakota Department of Human Services, visit:

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

IBM Initiate Master Data Service

Software Services for Information Management

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2011 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, New York 10589 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America July 2011 All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM logo,, Initiate and Initiate Master Data Service are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at Other product, company or service names may be trademarks or service marks of others. References in this publication to IBM products or services do not imply that IBM intends to make them available in all countries in which IBM operates. IMC14585-USEN-01