249736 Improving Environmental Health Processes in Iowa; A three county pilot

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 12:50 PM

Stephanie Segal, MPH , Process Excellence Consultant, Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Des Moines, IA
Rohit Ramaswamy, PhD, MPH , Public Health Leadership Program, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Des Moines, IA
Joy Harris, MPH , Iowa Department of Public Health, Des Moines, IA
As the push towards national accreditation of public health departments gains momentum nationwide, states are instituting quality improvement programs to monitor and enhance the performance of their services. This presentation describes documentation of standard processes, development of metrics and identification of improvement opportunities for environmental health processes in Iowa. Environmental health services in Iowa include but are not limited to dealing with rabies, mold, issuing septic tank permits, and inspecting spas and tattoo parlors. There is a lot of variability in the way these services are delivered from county to county, and no standard documentation exists. As a result, there is wide latitude in interpretation of procedures, varying levels of risk exposure to the population, and no consistent set of metrics to compare performance across counties. Defining standard work is an important part of quality improvement programs. Documenting processes is a precursor to problem solving, and allows an organization to understand work flow, measure performance, and identify opportunities for improvement. This paper describes the implementation and lessons learned from a pilot project for creating standard environmental health processes with inputs from three environmental health departments in Iowa. A case study from one of these counties further describes the development of process and output measures for environmental health programs and how quality improvement opportunities were identified. Environmental health is an important function of public health, but is rarely studied systematically. The approach described in this presentation can serve as a template for other states to follow.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Describe the approach used to develop standard processes, design metrics and identify quality improvement opportunities for environmental health in three Iowa counties

Keywords: Quality Improvement, Environmental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the study that is being presented
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.