142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Developing a tool for estimating local health departments' costs of providing public health services

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Monday, November 17, 2014 : 8:30 AM - 8:50 AM

Nancy Winterbauer, PhD, MS, MA , BSOM, Department of Public Health, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Simone Singh, Ph.D. , Department of Health Management and Policy, University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor, MI
Katherine Jones, PhD , BSOM, Department of Public Health, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Lisa Harrison, MPH , Granville-Vance District Health Department, Oxford, NC
Ashley Tucker, MPH , BSOM. Department of Public Health, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
The cost of providing a basic set of public health services necessary to protect the health of a population has not been well-described. Yet defining and describing the cost of these basic services is critical to public planning, policy, and assessment, particularly as local health departments (LHDs) suffer cuts to both programs and the public health workforce. The purpose of this research is to develop a tool for the estimation of service costs that can be readily implemented by finance staff in LHDs. To this end, we created a costing instrument for public health services by modifying and adapting the Substance Abuse Services Cost Analysis Program (SASCAP) cost instrument developed by RTI. Our instrument provides LHDs with a template to systematically compile their costs of providing public health services including both direct costs (e.g., labor, supplies, buildings, and equipment) and indirect costs (e.g., overhead costs). The instrument also asks for the number of services provided and/or clients served to allow for the calculation of the cost per unit of output produced. After having received input from select public health practitioners on the usability of our instrument, we will pilot the instrument in 16 LHDs in North Carolina in the spring/summer 2014. The focus of our pilot is on costing select environmental health services, such as childhood lead investigations and food and lodging inspections. In addition to presenting our costing instrument, we will also present preliminary data and share some early lessons learned. An in-depth understanding of the costs of providing public health services will allow public health officials to make decisions about the types and scope of public health services offered by their respective agencies, demonstrate additional funding needs, and evaluate the effect of partnerships and reorganization efforts on the cost and availability of public health services in their communities.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Explain barriers to constructing valid cost estimates Describe parameters necessary for costing services Evaluate variability in service costs at the local level

Keyword(s): Practice-Based Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal investigator on several funded grants focusing on public health systems and services research. Among my scientific interests has been public health practice-based research and the impact of funding on community health service delivery.
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.