PHAB accreditation process puts La Crosse County Health Department staff on path toward a common goal
BY DIANE PANZER
The La Crosse County Health Department (LCHD) in La Crosse, WI, has grown as a result of completing the required work for national public health accreditation. One area in which LCHD made great strides during this process was the Performance Management System. A performance management system can be described as the active and strategic use of performance standards and measures to ensure the agency achieves goals as identified by the agency strategic plan.
LCHD has tracked measures (data) for years, with its first formal dashboard put in place in 2014. This first LCHD dashboard tracked data primarily at the management level. In March 2015, a new Performance Management Team was established, consisting of staff at all levels. The team’s mission is “to plan, implement, and support the La Crosse County Health Department’s Performance Management System.”
The La Crosse County Health Department’s Performance Management System utilizes dashboard reports to inform stakeholders about the progress of performance standards and measures as well as determine the need for policy or program changes. It also helps ensure that the health department is meeting the needs of the community and providing quality services.
It should be noted that LCHD has had a well-established Quality Improvement (QI) Committee since 2012. Performance Management (PM) and QI are closely connected. This connection is described briefly as PM being the first part in the process, with QI being practiced when a measure is not meeting expectations and improvements in process are to be considered.
The Performance Management Team provided training, guidance and support to the seven divisions within our department (Public Health Nursing, Nutrition, Health Education, Environmental Health, Laboratory, Vector Control, and Administration) to develop division-specific Performance Management Systems (Division Dashboard Reports). “Headliners” were identified from each Division Dashboard to be included in the broader La Crosse County Health Department Dashboard Report. This all-encompassing LCHD report is shared with stakeholders, including our Health and Human Services Board, quarterly. The individual Division Dashboards serve to guide each division in making decisions related to their programs and services.
A great amount of time and energy was invested in developing our performance management system, and the benefits are apparent:
• Employees are more comfortable with tracking and reporting measures.
• Employees take ownership of their work and see it as a piece of a larger picture.
• The measures are used to report to our governing entities.
• The measures have been utilized to show results in program audits.
• We now have data (measures) at our fingertips and can be proactive instead of reactive.
The accreditation process has engaged employees of the La Crosse County Health Department in working toward a common goal in which everyone’s work plays an important part. The LCHD Performance Management System was one area where improvements had wide-reaching benefits. The new system has streamlined tracking of the work we perform.
The author is Office Supervisor and Accreditation Coordinator at La Crosse County Health Department in La Crosse, Wisconsin. La Crosse County Health Department was awarded national accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board on August 17, 2016.
About “Accreditation Works”
“Accreditation Works” is a new feature designed to showcase the benefits national accreditation brings to public health departments and communities while also providing insight into accreditation’s broad impact. To support this feature, PHAB-accredited health departments are invited to contribute 300-to-500-word narratives describing how their health department has changed as a result of going through the accreditation process. Collectively, these stories serve as first-hand testimonies of how PHAB accreditation benefits health departments and their communities. Submissions may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.