Healthy people in healthy communities – a vision each Public Health Authority should aim at achieving
The Department of Public Health from the State of Connecticut, US, aims to ensure “Healthy People in Healthy Connecticut Communities”. Far from remaining just a dream, numerous actions were taken in order to make sure this vision will be reached.
The first step was to develop the State Health Improvement Plan, a clear guide focused on improving health outcomes, by prevention and risk reduction. As part of this plan, 7 health areas of focus were identified: Maternal, Infant, and Child Health, Environmental Risk Factors and Health, Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, Infectious Disease Prevention and Control, Injury and Violence Prevention, Mental Health, Alcohol and Substance Abuse, Health Systems.
Each area of interest was assigned a certain goal. For example, for the first area of interest, “Maternal, Infant, and Child Health”, the assigned goal was to “Optimize the health and well-being of women, infants, children and families, with a focus on disparate populations”. Then, 5 directions of interest were identified:
- Reproductive and sexual health;
- Preconception and pregnancy care;
- Birth outcomes;
- Infant and child nutrition;
- Child health and well-being.
For each of the above presented directions, objectives and KPIs were selected. In the case of “Reproductive and sexual health”, the established objective was to: “Reduce by 10% the rate of unplanned pregnancies”. In other words, the expected output was a rate of unplanned pregnancies of 31%, from the 34.5% as it was the level in the period 2010 – 2011.
To make sure performance is tracked, a number of KPIs were identified. They are m in a so-called Performance Dashboard, available online, on the Department’s website. The tool is characterized by interactivity, which makes reading and understanding data way easier.
For the objective “Reduce by 10% the rate of unplanned pregnancies”, the KPIs under track are:
- % Unplanned pregnancies;
- % Clients who receive reproductive healthcare services;
- % Clients with a preventive reproductive health examination.
In the graphic below, it can be seen how KPIs are monitored. For each KPI, a definition is provided, along with the established targets, past and current results, trends and graphs.
Moreover, further details are available for each KPI:
- The story behind the curve – details regarding the KPI trend are provided, offering explanations for the past and current results. It is a section dedicated to comments and analyses;
- The Partners section – it refers to all bodies that the Connecticut Department of Public Health has relationships with. Here are covered other State Departments, like the Department of Social Services and the Department of Children and Families, various community health centers and clinics, school based health centers and schools of public health, as well as primary care providers and health professional associations;
- What works – it includes the programs intended at supporting target achievement. In the case of the KPI “% Unplanned pregnancies”, teen pregnancy prevention and personal responsibility education programs were the ones that showed results, translated into delaying sexual activity, increasing contraceptive use and reducing pregnancy among youth;
- The action plan section – refers to the actions that need to be further taken to ensure targets are reached. To reduce unplanned pregnancies, possible actions that can be taken include: providing relevant materials to support parents in their efforts to talk with adolescents about sexuality, supporting reproductive and sexual health services, and monitoring school district compliance with mandatory Health Education curriculum.
With such a thorough approach, as each of the 7 health focus areas are managed the same way, the Connecticut Department of Public Health significantly increases its chances of reaching the 2020 vision.
- Connecticut Department of Public Health (2015), About us
- Connecticut Department of Public Health (2014), Healthy Connecticut 2020: State Health Improvement Plan
- Connecticut Department of Public Health (2013), Reproductive and sexual health