Advancing Quality and Performance, One Opportunity for Improvement at a Time
By Jonathan Vorbeck, MPH
It’s hard to believe that so much time has passed since Jessamine County Health Department (JCHD) received announcement of our PHAB accreditation status in March, 2017! I can truly say that the opportunities for improvement identified during our site visit have changed the way JCHD staff thinks about our practices. Since the notification of our site visit report, numerous colleagues have suggested improvements for processes related to our three most serious challenges or opportunities for improvement, which were related to data collection, data analysis, and health equity. It is satisfying to both the JCHD Leadership Team and our governing entity that our local health department employees are continuously identifying ways to advance the quality and performance of our health department functions – it didn’t stop once we became accredited!
One area in which we have strived to achieve progress is towards our primary data collection efforts. Traditionally, we have relied upon secondary sources for data collection, at both the state and federal level, mainly due to locally limited resources for our jurisdiction size of ~ 50,000 population. In a best effort to innovate our primary data collection efforts, as identified via our site visit report, we have taken the opportunity to implement a quality improvement (QI) project related to the collection of overdose data reports and utilize geographic information systems (GIS) to transform these data points visually into geographic hot spots. From there, we will implement efforts regarding drug overdose prevention education and promotion of our syringe exchange program to combat the spread of infectious diseases (Hepatitis C and HIV). Creating and sustaining effective partnerships plays an instrumental part in PHAB Accreditation and this data collection process is a true partnership between the JCHD, local law enforcement, the Kentucky Department for Public Health, and our local Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (ASAP) board. Community partners and members are working towards improving a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) priority health topic within our community. Our community health division was adamant about identifying a QI project that focused on one of our three opportunities for improvement and did they succeed! As more data points are collected through this reporting process, we hope we can work on our other two greatest opportunities of improvement by conducting sound analysis to take a more in depth look at the health equity/social determinants of health of the overdose reports as it relates to geography, age, race, and gender. In the future, JCHD will continue to implement these strategies towards other health related topics.
If there is one thing that JCHD is not afraid of, it is a challenge to make our health department as effective and efficient as possible. Thanks to our site visit report, we have areas to which we should actively improve our current processes which will allow us continuously implement effective strategies that achieve our mission: “Promote, Protect, and Improve the Health and Wellness of our Community”!
Other benefits gained as a result of going through the accreditation process:
- Quality Improvement – identifying the need for “data” (data collection and analysis) to show true process improvements.
- Performance Management – Identifying “targets” for improvement and utilizing performance management as two-fold: productivity and program outcomes.
- Health Equity – Health equity/social determinants of health data was incorporated into our recent Community Health Assessment and Improvement Planning process. We invited the director of Office of Health to present on Health Equity during our first CHA/CHIP forum and what this looks like at Jessamine County.
- Community Engagement – JCHD did an excellent job of working with local public health system partners; however, involving the community at large was a weakness. In our recent Community Health Assessment and Improvement Planning process we emphasized the importance of having community residents’ feedback through active participants in our forums and community surveys.
- Staff – Importance of having staff at all levels involved the accreditation process. Even though not all staff were a part of the Accreditation Team, they still remained very involved through the process as it related to workforce development, quality improvement, performance management, and strategic planning. Effective communication kept all staff involved of the accreditation process!
Jessamine County Health Department in Nicholasville, Kentucky, was awarded national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board on March 14, 2017.
About the Author: Jonathan Vorbeck, MPH, serves as Accreditation/Communications Manager at Jessamine County Health Department in Nicholasville, Kentucky. Contact him at [email protected]