The Georgia Health Policy Center (GHPC) at Georgia State University has released an interactive planning tool to help public health leaders develop strategic plans to adapt to the Affordable Care Act and other changes in their field.
As of March 2014, more than 600 users from 49 states had registered to use the toolkit, “Leading through Health System Change: A Public Health Opportunity.”
“The role of public health – even without health reform – is changing,” said Georgia Health Policy Center analyst Glenn Landers. “Its mission is moving more towards population health surveillance, monitoring, planning and improvement. It is becoming more about linking people to clinical services and less about providing direct, individual services.
“Given this redirection, the role of public health departments and clinics is changing. Our contacts in the national policy office were concerned that, as they traveled the country, they saw many people in public health professions with lots of questions and no one answering.”
Landers and other researchers at the GHPC, housed within Georgia State’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, developed the tool. It is supported by the National Network of Public Health Institutes and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The Affordable Care Act impacts almost all aspects of the U.S. health care system, from financing and quality to coverage and access,” said GHPC Director Karen Minyard. “Public health officials are in a unique position to think strategically about how they should function moving forward.
Minyard helped plan and now promotes the toolkit.
The toolkit does not provide answers, but leads public health officials through a five-step planning process.
“This planning tool is a launching pad for leaders to begin to think adaptively, have important conversations and plan strategically with their teams,” Minyard said.
Adaptive solutions require experimentation and innovation. The idea behind the guided practice approach used in the toolkit, Landers said, is that it teaches users how to approach the questions about health care reform or health system change.
“You give them a few examples to work through – individually or as a team – to get the process down,” Landers said. “The idea is that if they go through the process, the five steps, they’ll be better equipped to handle adaptive challenges and lead with an adaptive mindset.”
Landers said public health professionals who have used the planning tool are better equipped to answer questions on their own.
“They are not paralyzed by the uncertainty that health reform brings,” he said.
“Leading through Health System Change” is available on the Web in online and printed workbook forms. Go to www.acaplanningtool.com to learn more.