Last week, LiveStories attended the 2017 NACCHO conference in Pittsburgh. (NACCHO stands for National Association of County and City Health Officials.) We learned a lot from the conference and loved hearing from the presenters, other attendees, and the president of NACCHO, Dr. Umair Shah. Here are some of our takeaways.
Local health departments are driving change.
The theme of this year’s conference was “Public Health Revolution: Bridging Clinical Medicine and Population Health.” Speakers focused on the need for local health departments to work with—and understand the health needs of—their communities. Health outcomes must be measured and understood not as abstractions but as reflecting the unique needs of local communities. In doing so, local health departments can take the reigns and improve public health from the ground up.
Local, real-time data are key.
Health crises, like the opioid epidemic, unfold across communities in real-time. The data that informs responses must be be nimble and granular to guide effective responses. Local health departments must be prepared to gather, share, and process data quickly—and quickly turn that data into well-informed action.
To wield health data effectively, departments must create a roadmap.
HIPAA—the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996—can be a major issue when it comes to local health data. The more granular health data gets, the more likely that data contains publicly identifying information that potentially violates patients’ privacy. HIPAA compliance requires local health departments to demonstrate public health need for data. Creating a "roadmap" for health data goes beyond such a compliance exercise and can inform decision-making all down the line.
Data must be shared as part of a community’s story.
Local health departments don’t work cloistered away in an ivory tower. Gathering data—particularly local data—involves cooperation between departments and with other organizations.
Just as crucially, communicating the insights from exploring health data is not an internal exercise. It must involve consideration of the community as an audience. Data provide a foundation and establish credibility; but to be truly effective, data must be accessible and understood by the communities health leaders serve.
Interested in telling the story of public health in your community? Request a demo today and learn how LiveStories can help you.