Insights

LMI’s Derrick Spain: Technical Expert for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program

July 13, 2022

LMI Staff

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Collage of technology, school lunch, and children

You’ve been supporting the WIC program for over 14 years since joining Suntiva, which was acquired by LMI in 2021. Can you share a little about which WIC state agencies you’ve supported and what kind of projects you worked on with them?

I’ve had the pleasure of supporting the WIC program since 2008 and first began as a developer for the Successful Partners in Reaching Innovative Technology (SPIRIT) user group. I transitioned into a lead developer role for the Chickasaw Nation Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) implementation while working on the New Mexico WIC smartcard EBT settlement and reporting system. My experience grew into special projects, where I led the requirements and design processes and produced prototypes. I’ve supported WIC state agencies (SAs) in Georgia, Indiana, Rhode Island, and South Carolina, working heavily in product management. In addition to the SPIRIT user group, I also supported the Crossroads project. I’ve worked with the Oklahoma Indian Tribal Organizations (ITOs) on their maintenance and enhancement procurement and the New Mexico ITOs their management information systems (MIS) and EBT implementations. I’ve also assisted the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) on several different projects over the years.

What do future technology trends look like when it comes to WIC?

On the EBT side, I see online shopping as something that will gain momentum over the next few years if regulations permit. There has been some interest in mobile payments using a device rather than a card, which could develop in the near future. Farmers markets have been incorporating EBT, so I would also expect that to continue. On the MIS side, there is a huge effort to improve outreach to engage new participants and historically underserved communities. There are a lot of interesting ideas coming from this effort that focus on removing barriers to participation, such as implementing a participant portal for prescreening and appointments. The idea is to make it easier for participants to engage with the program and streamline clinic operations to better serve participants. Another thing we’ve seen is the adoption of cloud services for hosting WIC systems, which I’d expect to see more of in the future.

Tell us about your favorite or most impactful project while supporting the WIC program.

I’ve really enjoyed most of the projects I’ve worked on. I enjoy working with the WIC SAs and have been fortunate enough to have worked with many of the same clients across different roles for my entire WIC career. It’s been a real pleasure and I’ve made a lot of good friends along the way. I found a position where my number one priority was to look out for the client’s best interest. Having worked on the MIS and EBT development side, I could provide real and valuable feedback to the client about their projects and initiatives. It was something I really felt good about, and I’ve never looked back.

What are you working on currently?

I’m currently working with the SPIRIT user group on their SPIRIT reengineering project and the Mountain Plains user group on their technology refresh project. I’m also working with the FNS, supporting the EBT technical standards and the technical standards workgroup, as well as an assessment of the feasibility and opportunities to use cloud services for WIC/EBT service delivery.

What does success look like on your team?

As a consultancy, LMI’s end goal while supporting the WIC program and FNS is to help our client reach their specific goals and ultimately improve health equity and the communities they serve. Our role in this effort is to provide our clients honest, candid feedback in the form of meaningful advice and considerations, helping our clients achieve superior results and improved outcomes. We are succeeding if we are helping our client improve the lives of the communities they serve.

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