Tight budgets, workforce shortages, increasing demands. There is no lack of challenges facing the public health community. But with those challenges come opportunities to transform the delivery of public health programs and services and improve health outcomes.
Hundreds of public health practitioners, administrators and partners met last summer to envision the “new public health” at APHA’s 2012 Midyear Meeting in Charlotte, N.C. Presenters delivered encouraging stories from the frontlines of community prevention, most notably the positive outcomes unfolding thanks to support from the Communities Putting Prevention to Work and Community Transformation Grants programs funded through the Affordable Care Act. Topics ran the gamut, from community prevention and health disparities to partnering with the clinical sector and ensuring quality public health services.
A new APHA report just out presents a collection of lessons learned from presentations during that meeting along with action steps, and suggests there is no place to go but forward.
“Public health is going though amazing changes,” said APHA Executive Director Georges Benjamin during the meeting’s opening session. “This is a time for public health to begin re-envisioning itself.”
Wondering where to start? Here are seven recommendations presented in the report:
- Adapt and thrive. Facing formidable challenges, public health must adapt, innovate and even take risks. It’s time to ask hard questions: Are we being efficient enough? Does this activity or service still provide good value?
- Champion “health in all policies.” Now is the time to reach out to transportation planners, land-use decision-makers, school administrators, business owners and other would-be partners to engage them in improving community health. Get them involved in changing and creating the conditions for good health.
- Engage the medical community. The Affordable Care Act embraces the notion that health happens both inside and outside the doctor’s office. Creating a new health system means integrating health care and public health.
- Pick a partner. In a time of limited resources and competing priorities, community-based partnerships that engage and empower stakeholders may be the surest path to sustainability.
- Share @PublicHealth. Learn how new technologies and communications tools can help you better reach the communities you serve and harness data to create opportunities for better health.
- Demonstrate value. Collect data and stories to illustrate the value of public health in people’s lives and demonstrate return on investment.
- Emphasize equity. Improving the nation’s health can’t come about without addressing health inequities. Fight for policies and resources that create the opportunities for all people to live healthy and prosper.
Read more about the recommendations and the APHA Midyear Meeting in the full report: “The New Public Health: Rewiring for the Future.” To read daily coverage from the meeting, visit the APHA Midyear Meeting Blog. To earn continuing education credit for listening to the APHA 2012 Midyear Meeting session recordings, see APHA’s Continuing Education page.