The Importance of Planning

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.



3 thoughts on “The Importance of Planning

  1. Coming from one of the agencies that is accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board and playing a role is the process of getting there, I can see the impact on the organization internally and on how we can improve the health of our community through planning and quality improvement. Quality improvement has put a focus on the fact that “we need quality improvement to have a continuous and ongoing effort to achieve measurable improvements in the efficiency, effectiveness, performance, accountability, outcomes, and other indicators of quality in services or processes which achieve equity and improve the health of the community.” This emphasis on planning and community health improvement has encouraged evaluation of all of the current processes within the agency, including financial, community health assessments, quality improvement, and the list goes on. I am excited to see what the future holds for many of the public health agencies as we start to focus on improving processes.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. According to experts, planning remains one of the most important project management and time management techniques. Looking at the limited resources available to the various Public Health Departments, planning will be very crucial for meeting their needs. It is better to plan to avoid the unexpected, than to deal with the unexpected in the mist of limited resources.


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