Commissioners approve $16M IT contract to power Harris County Public Health initiative

Commissioners approve $16M IT contract to power Harris County Public Health initiative

Harris County commissioners voted unanimously to execute a $16 million contract with IBM to provide technology services for ACCESS Harris County, a Harris County Public Health Initiative, during their June 28 meeting.

The ACCESS initiative, short for “Accessing Coordinated Care and Empowering Self-Sufficiency”, passed unanimously as a resolution presented by Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia on July 20, 2021; the contract with IBM will allow the initiative to move forward.

According to the HCPH website, ACCESS will focus on coordinating and providing care for vulnerable populations, including individuals who may be experiencing homelessness, re-entering society following incarceration or aging out of the foster care system.

Barbie Robinson, the executive director for Harris County Public Health, said in a news release that the initiative serves as a blueprint and model for how local governments should provide high-quality services.

“ACCESS Harris County is a bold challenge to make necessary changes to the way we think about service delivery and work collectively as county agencies to support our most vulnerable community members,” said Barbie Robinson, who previously led and developed ACCESS Sonoma County in California, said in the June 28 release.

Martha Marquez, a spokesperson for Harris County Public Health, told Community Impact Newspaper that IBM will create an integrated data hub that shares human services records across multiple county departments—a critical part of the care coordination model.

Funding for the initiative comes from American Rescue Plan Act funds and a 2021 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to Marquez.

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