ONLINE enrollment

Modernizing online enrollment for Michigan’s largest assistance programs 

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In partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Civilla modernized enrollment for public benefits in Michigan. The project delivered a new online portal that is simple to use and easy to understand. Since it rolled out statewide, over one million people have used it to apply for assistance.



Transforming digital services in the State of Michigan

Civilla is committed to transforming the way digital services are built in government.

In partnership with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Civilla modernized the online enrollment process for public assistance programs like food and healthcare in the State of Michigan.

Of the 2.5 million people who access public assistance in Michigan each year, about 50% apply online. However, the legacy application was long and complex – requiring over 45 minutes to apply.



Iterative design and development

  • Research: During the redesign, our team worked with the State’s IT vendor to adopt a new way of working that made space for the user’s voice. Before the strategic roadmap was set, Civilla conducted user research to ensure the product was rooted in a deep understanding of people’s needs. Research spanned the full enrollment process – including applications, renewals, document submission, change reports, correspondence, and post-eligibility support.

  • Digital Design: Building on insights from field research, Civilla worked alongside MDHHS and their IT vendor to design a new online enrollment portal that is simple to use and easy to understand. Rather than building the product linearly, we designed it in much shorter, faster cycles. We began by creating wireframes and mockups–light prototypes that demonstrated how the new technology would work, look, and feel.

  • Usability Testing: During development, Civilla conducted weekly usability testing to rapidly iterate and improve on the design before code was written. More than a year after the initial release, continued testing has enabled the team to incorporate hundreds of hours of feedback on each element of the software design.



A more compassionate and more efficient service

The impact of the redesign is clear: Applicants are able to easily apply, submit documents, report life changes, renew, and manage benefits from wherever they are, using the device they have.

It now takes less than 15 minutes to apply for benefits online.

In addition, the number of documents submitted online has tripled year-over-year, reaching nearly two million documents to date. More than 100K referrals have been generated to connect applicants with additional benefits such as WIC and utility assistance at local community organizations.



Setting a new national standard

The new portal sets a new standard for online benefit delivery across the country.

It was lifted up by Code for America as one of the strongest benefit applications in the country in 2019.

It received recognition for IT Solutions Management as Best Use of Technology for Customers at APHSA in 2018.

It was also recently an award winner for the IDG 2019 Digital Edge 50.

The new enrollment portal transforms the way MDHHS supports its customers. It helps us achieve our goal of providing efficient, effective and accountable government services to Michigan.
— Director, MDHHS