In previous blog posts I have discussed the potential impact of the current public health reimbursement rates on local health departments and the communities they serve, the need for improved funding for public health emergencies, and the necessity of using data to inform spending priorities. A potential way to curb the negative impact of scarce financial resources for local public health agencies can be found in strategic and community health improvement planning.
The National Association for City and County Health Officials (NACCHO) defines community health improvement planning as a process that identifies “priority issues, develops and implements strategies for action, and establishes accountability to ensure measurable health improvement”. According to NACCHO, strategic planning “provides a local health department and its stakeholders with a clear picture of where it is headed, what it plans to achieve, the methods by which it will succeed, and the measures to monitor progress”.
Through strategic and community health improvement planning, local health departments can effectively assess the financial realities of potential interventions or programs needed to address community based public health priorities and plan accordingly.
Currently, local health departments are being encouraged to go through the public health accreditation process where two of the key elements are strategic and community health improvement planning.
Luckily here in Georgia, several of our local health districts and our state health department have decided to apply for public health accreditation. In fact, 3 of the 18 public health districts in Georgia are now accredited. This means that all over the state, public health is prioritizing public health interventions based on current data and assessing the financial impact of public health priorities.
Some examples of how these types of planning efforts can positively affect local public health are:
- The Georgia Department of Public Health’s State Health Improvement Plan has identified the reimbursement rate issue (as discussed here) as a priority and is working towards alleviating this problem state-wide.
- The North Central Health District’s Strategic Plan has identified the need for alternative clinic hours to improve access to care as priority and is now offering alternative hours in several clinics. This effort has increased the number of patients able to be seen, therefore increasing the revenue of those clinics which has lead to the ability to offer new public health interventions.
These planning processes and public health accreditation may be new to public health here in Georgia and across the country but they are a step in the right direction.
- Erickson, A. M. (2016). Budgeting for Public Health Emergencies. Retrieved from amberericksonblog.wordpress.com: https://amberericksonblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/blog-3/
- Erickson, A. M. (2016). Federal Budget Reflection and Lessons from My Grandparents. Retrieved from amberericksonblog.wordpress.com: https://amberericksonblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/blog-2/
- Erickson, A. M. (2016). Public Health Reimbursement. Retrieved from amberericksonblog.wordpress.com: https://amberericksonblog.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/blog-4/
- Georgia Department of Public Health. (2016). State of Georgia Health Improvement Plan – Draft. Atlanta, GA.
- NACCHO. (2010). Developing a Local Health Department Strategic Plan: A How-To Guide. Washington DC.
- NACCHO. (2016). Community Health Assessment and Improvement Planning. Retrieved from http://www.naccho.org/programs/public-health-infrastructure/community-health-assessment?p=chachipgeneral
- North Central Health District. (2015). Strategic Plan. Macon, GA.
- PHAB. (2016, November 22). Accredited Health Departments. Retrieved from http://www.phaboard.org: http://www.phaboard.org/news-room/accredited-health-departments/
- PHAB. (n.d.). TIps for Getting Started. Retrieved from http://www.phaboard.org: http://www.phaboard.org/accreditation-overview/getting-started/