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New, improved tools to aid assessments of health systems.

Health professionals who want to gauge how well their health systems are performing and improve services in their communities now have simpler, easier-to-understand assessment tools available for their use.

The National Public Health Performance Standards Program, a partnership led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has released improved versions of its successful performance assessment instruments. The changes make the instruments easier to understand and more attractive to new users, according to Karlene Baddy, MEd, APHA's director of public health systems and partnerships.

"We've had success so far with the program, making steady gains in health services provided around the country," Baddy said. that momentum moving and to involve more people in using the assessments in their communities."

Launched in 2002, the standards program allows health leaders to compile and evaluate data on their health systems and gauge how well they are meeting the needs of residents. To date, more than 20 states, 800 local health systems and hundreds of local boards of health have conducted assessments using the standards program, leading to strengthened partnerships, new lines of communication and most importantly, health improvements.

The program centers around three assessment tools: a state-level instrument for evaluating state public health systems, a local instrument for local systems and a governance instrument for local governing governing bodies such as local boards of health. Based on the essential functions of public health--such as surveillance, research and health promotion--the instruments question users on their ability to offer public health services. Data from the instruments are then used to create a report with performance scores, charts and suggestions on how to use the results for quality improvement.

Based on feedback from participants, CDC and partners retooled the instruments recently, making them streamlined, shorter and easier to use. The U.S. Office of Management and Budget granted clearance for the new instruments on Aug. 24, and the new tools are available now on the National Public Health Performance Standards Program Web site.

Health workers who are attending APHA's 135th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., in November can learn about the revised instruments and National Public Health Performance Standards Program during two scientific sessions. On Monday, Nov. 5, at 12:30 p.m., session 3200 will highlight the way the standards program can shape national, state and local health practice. The session will also be available as a webcast after the Annual Meeting.

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At 2:30 p.m. on Monday, session 3298 will focus entirely on the new Version 2 assessment instruments and how they can be used to improve public health practice. Room locations for the sessions will be listed in the APHA Annual Meeting final program, which will be available at the check-in area at the Washington Convention Center.

Health workers who have used or are planning to use the assessment instruments are invited to attend a reception launching the new versions on Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Hotel during the APHA Annual Meeting.

"In the end, the goals of the performance standards program are a better provision of public health services and better health for all," Baddy said. "These instruments are an important important step toward moving us closer to that goal."

The National Public Health Performance Standards Program is a partnership of CDC and six organizations: APHA, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, National Association of County and City Health Officials, National Association of Local Boards of Health, National Network of Public Health Institutes and Public Health Foundation.

For more information on the National Public Health Performance Standards Program, visit www.cdc.gov/od/ocphp/nphpsp or call (800) 747-7649. For more on the APHA Annual Meeting, visit www.apha.org/meetings.
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Title Annotation:ON THE JOB: News for the public health profession
Publication:The Nation's Health
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2007
Words:619
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