Magazine article The Nation's Health

Performance Standards a Success in New Hampshire: New England State Uses Standards to Fuel Progress, Training

Magazine article The Nation's Health

Performance Standards a Success in New Hampshire: New England State Uses Standards to Fuel Progress, Training

Article excerpt

HEALTH and community leaders in New Hampshire have found that performance standards can do more than just measure health services and generate data. Through their use of the National Public Health Performance Standards Program, New Hampshire state and community leaders are building partnerships, creating action plans to address health issues and developing programs they hope will ultimately help improve the health of residents.

Led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Public Health Performance Standards Program is a collaborative effort of seven national public health organizations, including APHA. The program allows health and community leaders to compile and evaluate information on their public health systems and provides a framework for quality improvement. Since its launch in 2002, about two dozen states, 800 local health systems and hundreds of local boards of health have conducted assessments using the standards program.

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Among the states that have used the program is New Hampshire, which conducted its first statewide performance standard assessment in October 2005. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Public Health Services gathered more than 110 representatives from the private and public sectors to assess the state's health services using the National Public Health Performance Standards Program.

Once data from the assessment was analyzed, the results showed that participants felt New Hampshire was doing well at delivering many essential public health services, such as diagnosing disease, enforcing health regulations and monitoring for health problems. However, the state was lagging on issues such as the public health work force, partnerships, education and research, the evaluation found.

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Armed with the results, New Hampshire began charting a course for change. State health officials convened an improvement advisory committee just four months after the assessment with a goal of improving the capacity of the state health system as well as the public's health. …

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