vGOV: Remote Video Access to Government Services

Robert F. Rubeck (University of North Dakota, USA) and Glenn A. Miller (University of North Dakota, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 268
EISBN13: 9781605666471|DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-414-9.ch017
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Abstract

The need of rural and reservation residents to receive better government services has been long-standing. In spite of the best efforts of the Social Security Administration; a vast number of Native Americans living in rural and remote areas have had their access to program information and social benefits limited by distance; economic; and cultural challenges. A project at the University of North Dakota has found a way to transform the delivery of government services to these citizens. As an off-shoot of work in telemedicine and rural outreach; staff members of the Center for Rural Service Delivery collaborated with the Social Security Administration and the Indian Health Service to create the first video link connecting a hospital to a Social Security Office. The IHS hospital; in Belcourt; ND was connected to the SSA office in Minot; ND; some 120 miles away. The video link went live in October of 2003. The social benefits of remote video access to SSA services have been measured by the number of citizens who use video access to seek answers to questions and to make application for benefits each year. Since it went live; the link has resulted in more than 300 completed applications for disability benefits or income supplements. That total is more than 50 times the number produced through conventional service delivery. The economic impact to VSD has been measured as the cumulative value of monthly Supplemental Security Income and Disability payments to individual citizens and the total of annual Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement payments made to local healthcare facilities. The service impact includes increased application completion rates; accelerated claims processing; and increased third party assistance in the application process.
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