County updates, streamlines software across departments

March 13, 2017

Sherry Swackhamer, director of the county’s Department of County Assets listens as her deputy director, Bob Leek lays out the newest technology developments

From healthcare records, to adoptable pets, to criminal prosecutions, Multnomah County is streamlining data management systems as part of a push to modernize and secure its technology.

“These are some of our guiding principles when we’re deciding on projects,” said Sherry Swackhamer, director of the county’s Department of County Assets, in a Thursday briefing on Information Technology capital projects. “We really look at, are we modernizing our platforms and keeping them current? Are we building resiliency so that we’re able to recover the county systems after a disaster? And then cyber security and physical security are two key factors we look at.”

The county began investing heavily in technology upgrades in 2009. Those included overhauling the county phone system and currently migrating the District Attorney's case management system. Following a technology assessment last year, departments identified nearly 100 hardware and software components now slated for migration or elimination. 

“We’ve made investments in the past on a new data center, new phone system, end user devices like laptops. But what we hadn’t addressed was a lot of the software applications,” Department of County Assets deputy-director Bob Leek said. “In six of 10 departments, we’re replacing their key day-to-day transaction systems. That is the place that IT is going to contribute in modernizing those older systems and taking advantage of newer technology. It’s going to pick up steam this year.”

The county's Department of Community Services is moving Animal Services to a new data management system, Shelter Buddy. The Health Department will begin using a package of case management tools by Collective Medical Technologies to centralize case records for faster and more effective patient care.

Commissioner Sharon Meieran said she’s used the health care software, which allows providers across different departments to see a client’s records in real time. “The information they provide in terms of coordinating care for individuals is really something I had not seen before,” she said. “I’m excited for that opportunity.”