Missouri to Become Technology First State

Message from Valerie Huhn, Director, Division of Developmental Disabilities.  I am very pleased that in February, the Department of Mental Health will designate Missouri as a “Technology First state.” Technology first means that we first look at technology as a solution for an individual who needs developmental disability services instead of direct support staffing. Technology can include many things such as simple medication reminders or dispensing devices, sensors on doors and windows, or systems that enable individuals to communicate with remote staff by using phones or web-based technology.

There are many benefits to Technology First. Technology improves the quality of life for individuals who receive services. Individuals who receive services tell me they want more independence in their lives. Technology allows individuals to have that independence and gives them more privacy in their homes. It also provides tools that can in-crease safety and health for individuals. For example, technology may be used to track adherence to medication schedules, sleep patterns, and the occurrence of health events.

 Technology first can also be one of the solutions to the direct care staffing shortage that we have right now. Using technology is often a less expensive option to providing direct support. If you can improve someone’s quality of life at a lesser cost, Technology First can be the right decision for an individual. This issue of the Direct Connection is dedicated to Technology First and the many options it provides to increase independence, safety, and health for individuals receiving services.