A San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) program that makes it easier for residents to access Medi-Cal and CalFresh through video interviewing has been recognized as a Bright Idea by Harvard University.

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“It is an honor to earn national recognition for this unique way to reach out to customers,” said Ron Roberts, Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors. “Innovation and collaboration are keys to the County’s ongoing efforts to make it easier for eligible residents to access services.”

Video interviewing for Medi-Cal and CalFresh has made it easier for customers to access benefits, particularly people living in rural areas. The County has about 450,000 residents who live in rural areas, and accessing County services could require travel up to 90 miles roundtrip for clients or County staff.

“The video interviewing program helps deliver quality services to residents to ensure they are healthy, safe and able to thrive in their communities.” said Nick Macchione, HHSA Director. “This program is a win-win for clients and the County.”

HHSA has also used video interviewing for those who might be hesitant to seek benefits in person, such as battered women living in shelters and migrant farm workers. The technology has proven to be so successful it will be rolled out to other County programs.

“Government innovation does not require endless resources and generous budgets,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. “As exemplified by this year’s Bright Ideas, some of our country’s smartest innovations can in fact reduce government’s size while serving our citizens more efficiently and effectively.”

The HHSA video interviewing program was one of more than 100 programs across the nation recognized from all levels of government, including school districts, county, city, state, and federal agencies as well as public-private partnerships. The chosen programs demonstrate a creative range of solutions to issues such as urban and rural degradation, environmental problems, and the academic achievement of students.

For more information about HHSA’s video interviewing