Staff at Washtenaw County Public Health (WCPH) in Michigan used grants from the Michigan Department of Community Health and the Kresge Foundation to create the Prescription for Health program. The goal was to improve access to local and affordable produce by building connections among primary care, public health, and local agriculture. During the first two years of the program (2011 and 2012), Prescription for Health proved successful in using farmers’ market referrals to reinforce medical advice about healthy eating. Bolstered by these early successes, WCPH identified several areas for improvement going into the program’s third year and chose to use quality improvement (QI) methods to accomplish these goals.
In 2012, WCPH applied for and received the Public Health Foundation’s (PHF) Future of Public Health Award for Prescription for Health. The award recognized the program’s promise to generate measurable outcomes benefiting the future of public health through applied QI. PHF’s QI expert, Sonja Armbruster, trained WCPH staff to address their identified areas for improvement using QI methods.
With the goal of standardizing the new enrollment process, WCPH used QI tools to help clinics become knowledgeable about Prescription for Health and local food resources. WCPH plans to build on their QI success as they prepare for accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board. WCPH is also fielding inquiries from other health departments and assisting in the development of several spinoff programs. Read the full case story here.