Quality improvement (QI) is strongly linked to efforts to improve and promote public health practice through accreditation of state and local health departments.
What is QI? Simply put, QI is about establishing and meeting measurable objectives. QI efforts rely on data to understand the nature and extent of problems and the effect of specific solutions to address those problems.
QI can eliminate waste in operations, determine the real or “root” cause of a problem, and help generate evidence-based practices. It can also be used to pinpoint a single intervention that can significantly improve results, such as rewording instructions for consumers to increase adherence.
QI can help ensure excellence and effectiveness of local health department communications, and communications expertise can enhance other QI activities, such as:
- Dedicate a QI initiative to communications. For example, the initiative could review awareness of, and attitudes toward, the LHD by residents generally and by key groups, such as physicians in private practice and opinion leaders. Or, more narrowly, the initiative could examine one communications campaign, such as a campaign to persuade elementary and middle school students, teachers, and administrators to control bullying.
- Offer the expertise of the local health department’s communications staff to help draft, format, edit, or disseminate communications about QI efforts. This collegial contribution could help assure that QI efforts—which may be particularly important to the department's top management—benefit from greater clarity. For example, if the QI program decides to focus on food service inspections, a communications officer may be able to help prepare information that food service workers can readily understand.