Arkansas Department of Health Embraces a Culture of Performance Management and Quality Improvement
By Namvar Zohoori, MD, PhD, MPH
The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) received national accreditation through PHAB in 2016. Going through the process of self-assessment, preparation, and application for accreditation made clear the importance of having adequate resources to carry out, in a systematic way, strategic planning, performance management, and quality improvement activities at the department.
Subsequent to our accreditation, the ADH decided to elevate the management of these functions within the agency. This was done in two ways. First, the former Office of Performance Improvement Management, which was managed by one performance improvement manager, was divided into three separate units, each with its own manager: 1) the Performance Management Unit, responsible for strategic plan management, dashboard maintenance, performance monitoring, and PHAB compliance and documentation; 2) the Quality Improvement Unit, responsible for managing the quality council, QI training, QI projects, and the development of a QI culture; and 3) an Evaluation Support Unit, responsible for support and consultation for program evaluation activities within the agency.
Second, the newly formed Office of Performance Management, Quality Improvement and Evaluation has been moved under the Office of the Chief Science Officer within the Director’s Office at ADH. This move was made in recognition, and as a signal to agency staff, of the importance that senior management places on these complimentary activities, and to give these areas the resources and direction that they need. A new manager for the Performance Management Unit has been hired and is in place, and work is underway to identify and create the necessary positions for the Evaluation Support Unit. The ADH is currently interviewing for the newly created position of Quality Improvement Unit manager, and plans are in place for training a group of 12-15 Quality Improvement Facilitators during this fiscal year. With this change, the ADH is well poised to embrace a culture of performance management and quality improvement as an ever-advancing health department, committed to protecting and improving the health and well-being of all the state’s citizens.
The Arkansas Department of Health in Little Rock, Arkansas, was awarded national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board on May 17, 2016.
About the author: Namvar Zohoori, MD, PhD, MPH, is Chief Science Officer at the Arkansas Department of Health in Little Rock, Arkansas. Contact him at [email protected].
Other major benefits gained as a result of going through the accreditation process:
- Heightened awareness of accountability to the public and partners.
- Recognition of continuous quality improvement as a requirement for healthy program and operational development.
- Opportunities to identify and implement system and service improvements that contribute to quality and/or efficiency.
- Decision to adopt and implement agency-wide use of a unified system of scorecards and improved dashboard.