Collaboration, innovation helps the county cut costs

Innovation and collaboration are helping to cut the cost of government in Anoka County and beyond.

When the state’s medical assistance program shifted a portion of its mental health clients to various managed care providers in 2009, Anoka County had to come up with a new way to bill insurance companies for the case management services it provides.

Because the state’s billing system wasn’t programmed to handle this type of transaction, a team from Anoka County’s information technology and fiscal services departments developed a custom Microsoft Access application that is compatible with the state system.

The new application pulls client data and county case management activity from the state system and reformats it to a new Access database that enables timely, accurate billing to insurance companies.

Officials in Hennepin County were so impressed after seeing a demonstration of the application, they’ve asked for a copy for their own use.

“Using in-house resources and expertise, we were able to customize an application at a significant cost savings,” said Anoka County Board Chairperson Rhonda Sivarajah.

“We were happy to share our solution with Hennepin County and, in fact, continue to look for more opportunities to have a mutually beneficial exchange of information and procedures in the future.”

Anoka County has a long history of establishing creative partnerships to boost efficiency and contain costs, according to Sivarajah.

In 2008, Anoka and Dakota counties entered into a joint powers agreement to contract with Strategic Technologies and Hyland Software to migrate to an electronic document imaging system in the Community Corrections Department.

The move required merging detailed case and court-related information, offender demographics and photos, parole officer reports and other information in the existing Court Services Tracking System (CSTS) with Hyland’s OnBase document management software.

The end result is a system that allows easier access to data, is more secure and requires less staff time.

Anoka County’s share of the integration software costs and other needed enhancements was $94,341.

Other corrections departments in Minnesota have been invited to join Anoka and Dakota counties in using the new document management software.

New counties will benefit by not having to pay for initial development costs; Anoka and Dakota counties will benefit because the cost of future enhancements and maintenance will be shared by the new users, according to Sivarajah.

“It just made sense to pool our resources with Dakota County to develop a system that allows all of us to work smarter,” Sivarajah said.

“This has the potential to yield significant cost savings for taxpayers in Anoka and Dakota counties and beyond.”