Associate Professor, Erika Martin and Betty Bekemeier (University of Washington School of Nursing) reflect on the gaps in information about the public health delivery system in their recent article on the Health Affairs Blog, “Investing in Evidence to Inform Practice: Reimaging the U.S. Public Health System.” They describe the growth of the field of public health systems and services research that uses the methods and concepts of health services research to examine the organizations, structures, staffing, and service delivery of our public health system. The evidence developed by the field has guided the accreditation of public health agencies, demonstrated the impact of public health services on population health, and established a foundational set of essential public health services for all communities.
Despite the importance of this research to evaluate and enhance the performance of our public health system, it has never received long-term and stable federal allocations. The federal Prevention and Public Health Fund that was established under the Affordable Care Act was never funded at the level needed to support research on public health systems, and the field has relied on funding from health foundations with shifting priorities.
Martin and Bekemeier conclude with specific recommendations on how to revive this field and its critical importance as experts discuss how to rebuild a “reimagined” public health system in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read their full article on the Health Affairs Blog.