Reforming health and justice through dynamic tech partnership

  • Blog

    Reforming health and justice through dynamic tech partnership

    Understanding mental health, homelessness, and criminal justice issues at a governmental level reveals an urgent need for communication and technological advancement. Fulton County, Ga., saw how their criminal justice system became the back line responding to these myriad issues, and how it stretched agencies’ current capabilities.

    Uniting Agencies for Reform

    As the largest county in Georgia, Fulton County looked to lead mental health and criminal justice reform. A task force was created, supported by a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The county also joined the national Stepping Up initiative, a group dedicated to reducing the number of people with mental illness in jails.

    The first step toward solving the problem was to collect data – a monumental task when Fulton considered how many agencies would need to be involved.

    “Everyone was working with different systems, with different data collection and reporting methods. There was no consistency and no sharing of data in a centralized way,” Mike Rowicki, director of strategic planning and performance management for Fulton County, says.

    “We needed to integrate the data so we could analyze it and make better decisions about our use of criminal justice resources.”

    Leveraging Tech Partnership

    Fulton County saw the potential in a solution they already used – a data sharing platform from Tyler Technologies. The cloud-based software is able to track data on housing, homelessness, medical treatment, pre-arrest, court and re-entry. This data is stored in a centralized solution, which is available for county judges, department heads, and nonprofit administrators to access, streamlining service provision.

    The Tyler Technologies solution is in partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), meaning Fulton County has the full weight of both a powerful piece of software, and a world-class cloud system behind its efforts. The Tyler solution runs on AWS, using Amazon Kinesis Data Streams to capture, process, and store data streams at any scale.

    The dynamism of the cloud allows Fulton County to scale for the future, without having to worry about the costs and footprint of a physical data center. Instead, when they’re ready to expand data tracking, or add in more partners, it will come at a lower cost and no additional staff strain.

    Fulton County, Ga. is leveraging a cloud-based solution from Tyler Technologies to solve deeply rooted issues in health and criminal justice.

    “Using Tyler Technologies on AWS, we can quickly accommodate 50 or more additional groups or agencies that want to join,” Rowicki says. “If we can scale this solution to where we want it to be, we think we can save the County millions of dollars.”

    “While we’re working toward that goal, we will continue to work with our vulnerable population to make sure they have access to the services they need so they can be productive citizens in our community.”

    Better Care Through Data

    A centralized, cloud-based solution allows various agencies insight into both larger datasets and a single individual’s treatment journey. Tyler’s solution does provide privacy controls, for HIPAA compliance and user data, so that sensitive information isn’t widely available.

    One of the first data sets produced tracked the 100 people arrested most frequently in Fulton County. Administrators discovered that many of them had persistent mental health issues and had been seen by multiple healthcare providers. Previously, with each agency tracking data separately, there was no way to put together a single patient’s history.

    Now, if they are arrested again, law enforcement can view their history, and take proper care, transporting them to a healthcare facility instead of jail.

    “We’re trying to focus on getting these people connected with a single provider to stabilize them,” Rowicki says. “Once that happens, if the person goes back into the community and something happens again, we can get them back to the last provider they worked with and keep working on their treatment plan.”

    Creating Evidence-Based Systems

    Administrators are also tracking data from three homeless shelters in Fulton County, which will hopefully give deeper insight into the care that people might need, while allowing tracking of a single provider as well.

    Rowicki sees this data as a way to break the unhealthy cycle that perpetuated repeat arrests, multiple trips to jail or court, and no real advances in understanding why a person was reoffending. Now, with an easily accessible set of data, it will be easier to provide someone with consistent help, from a consistent source.

    The County is adding new social services centers, to give law enforcement an alternative to jail when someone with mental illness or addiction is arrested.

    “Our goal has always been reducing the population of people going to jail that do not need to be there and redirecting them to mental health services and resources,” Rowicki says.

    Upcoming Live Webinar:

    Join Tyler Technologies and Fulton County on November 3 as part of NACo’s Familiar Faces Initiative. You will hear from Judge McBurney and Kristin Schillig along with seeing the Tyler services that supported the innovative avenues Fulton County took with their justice and health care systems.

    Understanding mental health, homelessness, and criminal justice issues at a governmental level reveals an urgent need for communication and technological advancement. 

Related Posts

Related Resources

More From

  • Opioid Solutions Center

    NACo’s Opioid Solutions Center empowers local leaders to invest resources in effective treatment, recovery, prevention and harm reduction practices that save lives and address the underlying causes of substance use disorder.

    Learn More