Strengthening New York's Public Health System for the 21st Century



A. Public Health Work Force

To address the findings related to work force, the Work Group recommends that:

1. The Public Health Council monitor the national discussion about certification of the public health work force. This assessment of the possible role of certification should clarify the standard set of core competencies that should be used as a framework for hiring, for performance evaluation and for training by state and local health departments. A national recommendation for PH worker certification of basic competencies requires further study before implementation.

2. The Public Health Council call on all members of the public health system to develop service obligated scholarship programs for students in Schools of Public Health, Nursing, Health Education and other fields linked to working in governmental public health agencies in NYS upon completion of training.

3. The PHC, the NYS DOH and local health departments consider how to address long-term shortages in the public health work force based on projected future retirements of state and local staff.

4. The NYS DOH and local health departments engage in a regular assessment and reporting of public health work force needs, supply, and projected vacancies based on normal levels of turnover, including those occasioned by retirement.

B. Public Health Organizational Systems and Relationships

To address the findings related to organizational systems and relationships, the Work Group recommends that:

5. The NYS DOH, its academic partners and LHDs develop training for State and LHDs on how to build and sustain community partnerships. Based on these strategies and best practices, local health leaders must increasingly use coalitions and partnerships to execute their programs. Getting things done through regional, cooperative approaches such as those used to undertake bioterrorism planning is key. This model (the BT Grant) serves as a useful process for other community partnerships in the future.

6. The NYS DOH, its academic partners and LHDs expand training to include targeted skills building for public health directors on leadership, coalition building, and notably on the art of effective communication, particularly to an increasingly culturally diverse community.

7. The NYS DOH, its academic partners and LHDs implement training for public health staff on the new science of informatics and on data analysis techniques in order to support smart use of resources, set policy and determine priorities; alternatively, to properly document and communicate the consequences when resources are reduced or eliminated.

C. Public Health Data and Information Systems

To address the findings related to data and information systems, the Work Group recommends that:

8. The NYS DOH institute periodic and ongoing review of existing data systems and information technology resources (platform, software, databases, networks and users) at the state and local level to determine gaps and redundancies.

9. The NYS DOH, LHDs, and NYS OFT fund a "best practices" pilot in one county to demonstrate an ideal data and information system operation. It should specify and demonstrate integrated data collection using common intake, common database, common definitions, common data fields and standardized outcome indicators. Key health partners should have authorized access to the system through a secured user password network. This pilot should be undertaken in concert with a comprehensive strategic plan referenced in the priority recommendations.

10. The NYS DOH, LHDs, DHHS establish standardized, public health program outcome indicators (federal, state and local) so that effectiveness can be measured and benefits communicated when useful and appropriate; conversely so that shifts in policy direction or service delivery can be made.

11. NYS DOH develop, publish and monitor information technology "best practice" standards for individuals and contractors working with new or existing public health information systems in NYS.

12. NYSDOH continue its commitment to improve and provide continuous technicalassistance and training on specific Information technology (IT) networks. These would include such systems as the Health Provider Network (HPN), the Health Information Network (HIN) and the Health Alert Network (HAN) for local health department (LHD) personnel and their community partners (local hospitals) for whom the HPN delivers particular benefit.

13. NYS DOH, OFT, LHDs schedule and carry out effective and efficient training and technical assistance to state and LHD staff to assure competence and currency with current technology and data analysis.