Dr. Judith A. Monroe, Director, Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Deputy Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The public health system faces sustained financial challenges—challenges compounded by an aging population, the increasing burden of chronic diseases, and variability in the operation and performance of more than 3,000 state, tribal, local, and territorial health agencies. Yet, as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support (OSTLTS)
, I see every day how dedicated public health officials are sustaining, improving, and transforming the public health services that advance health in communities—despite these economic challenges.
The National Public Health Improvement Initiative (NPHII)
is a shining example of how public health departments are transforming. NPHII is a five-year initiative operated by OSTLTS that continually helps public health departments 1) become more organized and effective, and operate with less waste; 2) generate the objective information needed to make critical decisions about the future of services in their communities; 3) improve service, value, performance, transparency, and accountability; and 4) ensure a solid foundation to perform core public health functions and deliver essential services to the public.
NPHII helps state, tribal, local, and territorial health departments increase the impact of their public health services by
- Building and applying performance improvement systems and practices
- Improving programs performance tracking
- Preparing for public health accreditation; accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board signifies that a health department is meeting national standards for ensuring essential public health services are provided in the community
- Strengthening delivery of public health services and programs, a process which documents the capacity of the public health department to deliver the three core functions of public health and the 10 essential public health services
- Using evidence-based policies and practices to invest strategically in what works and reduce duplication of effort
- Building a network of performance improvement managers across the country who share strategies for improving the public health system
- Maximizing collaboration across public health systems to ensure seamless and coordinated services for residents
In other words, NPHII helps health departments answer the questions, “Are we doing the right things, and are we doing them right?” while providing resources for data-driven improvement and innovation.
NPHII is already paying off. For example,
- New Jersey implemented automated, electronic reporting of influenza test results from the state laboratory to CDC, enabling faster detection and response by drastically reducing reporting time from 2-3 weeks to 2-3 days.
- In Tennessee, the state health department strengthened its public health data system to improve speed and accuracy of vital records tracking, enabling better health status access and monitoring.
- In Virginia, the state health department consolidated critical metrics from 119 public health system databases into one dashboard system serving all offices, identifying at least $1.2 million in potential annual savings in IT costs to reinvest in programs and staffing.
- As of early May 2013, 137 state and local health departments have formally applied for national public health accreditation. While the readiness of those applicants can’t wholly be attributed to NPHII, there is strong recognition that NPHII has greatly advanced these efforts.
These achievements show how NPHII funds leverage and improve the work and impact of other public health investments to protect health.
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