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California's strategic plan for health care.

Each and every day, the programs administered by the California Department of Health Care Services touch the lives of more than 7 million Californians. We work closely with health care professionals and organizations, county governments, and health plans in the administration of health care programs and services. The DHCS is the single largest purchaser of health care in California, and we play a critical role in supporting California's health care safety net.

The health care programs and services administered by and financed through the DHCS provide California's low-income families, children, pregnant women, seniors, and persons with disabilities with access to critical health care. DHCS programs include Medical (the state Medicaid program), California Children's Services, the Child Health and Disability Prevention Program, and services that support rural health delivery systems, farm worker communities, clinic systems and American Indian populations.

While our programs are not new, we are a relatively young organization. The DHCS was created on July 1, 2007, through state legislation that provided the statutory framework for creating the California Department of Public Health by splitting the California Department of Health Services into the CDPH and a reorganized DHCS.

The DHCS strategic plan was designed to demonstrate our new focus on health care purchasing and the need to demonstrate increased accountability and program effectiveness, with these seven goals:

* Organize Care to Promote Improved Health Outcomes

* Promote Comprehensive Health Coverage

* Measure Health System Performance and Reward Improved Outcomes

* Increase Accountability and Fiscal Integrity

* Ensure Viability and Availability of Safety Net Services

* Expand and Promote the Use of Information Technology

* Recruit, Retain, Train and Narture a High-Quality, Diverse Staff

Specifically, goals 1 and 2 are designed to ensure program effectiveness, while goals 3 through 7 are focused on increasing accountability and ensuring program effectiveness.

This strategic plan guides our activities, practices, goals and aspirations as a health care purchaser and guardian of safety net services, serving as the roadmap for our work. The strategic plan helps focus us on how best to use available resources to advance our mission in difficult budgetary times and will guide us in building on our foundation in times of prosperity as we strive to preserve and improve the health status of all Californians.

The DHCS finalized its strategic plan and implementation plan in August 2008 and formally released the plan to all staff and the public in October 2008. The strategic plan articulates our mission, core values and vision and serves as a road map for our short-and long-term work, covering a period from 2008-2011. As listed above, there are seven goals, with two to six objectives under each. The plan provides a landscape that illustrates our roles within the California Health and Human Services Agency and our action plan, with health care reform and responding to key trends in demographics, health care delivery and the economy.

The implementation plan serves to communicate to control agencies and stakeholders the key actions DHCS is taking to meet its goals and objectives and as an internal management tool to ensure accountability for completion of the strategic actions. Within the implementation plan, the goals and objectives are listed with the actions to be taken toward achievement of each goal. The DHCS also developed an implementation plan for internal use only that identifies milestones for each specified action.

Through its strategic planning efforts, DHCS is working toward transparency and identifying deliverables or documents that can be provided to the public and stakeholders on a regular basis and not just in response to ad hoc inquiries. Additionally, as state and national policies are effectuated, DHCS will incorporate such elements into the strategic plan.

An example of this is the incorporation of the applicable Medicaid provisions of the president's federal stimulus package into the appropriate goals and objectives.

The DHCS has assigned an overall strategic plan contact and an executive sponsor to each goal. The DHCS internally evaluates the status of the activities and milestones identified in the plan on a quarterly basis. Specifically, each division/office chief submits quarterly progress update reports on all identified activities in the plan to the overall contact.

The DHCS is working to revise this format for ease of updating the plan as a whole. DHCS management is working on an information technology solution that would allow each division/office chief to electronically update the internal implementation plan and to incorporate appropriate elements for the quarterly progress reporting to avoid duplication of efforts and increase efficiency.

While DHCS internally measures the success of the strategic plan on a quarterly basis, it plans to release annual updates regarding the success of the strategic plan to the public. The DHCS plans to review the plan annually and update it every two years, with the next version planned for release in October 2010.


Toby Douglas is the chief deputy director of Health Care Programs at the California Department of Health Care Services.
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Title Annotation:health care
Author:Douglas, Toby
Publication:Policy & Practice
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Apr 1, 2010
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