Northern Michigan Public Health Alliance

This grantee was part of the Center’s Implementation and Impact Measurement Program.

This project focused on measuring gains in effectiveness and efficiency of conducting a common community health assessment (CHA) across jurisdictions. The project team compared cost and quality measures from a region of counties conducting a CHA versus those same jurisdictions conducting individual CHAs within single jurisdictions or smaller collaborations.

The project team collected data for three measures:

Measure 1 – Saved Cost
This measure was aimed at calculating the difference in cost between regional CHAs and individual CHAs performed independently by each public health agency. The project team concluded that they saved both personnel time and other expenses by conducting the CHAs regionally. For one of the regional CHAs (Tip of the Mitt), the saving was estimated at 690 staff hours (equal to $17,277). For another regional CHA (Grand Traverse Region), the savings was estimated at 2045 hours (or $56,085). Further savings (269 hours, or $13,927) were achieved through economies of scale from organizational meetings with common regional hospital partners; training, including time, registration fees, and travel expenses; centralized secondary data collection; and design and development of surveys.

Measures 2 and 3 – Enhanced Quality
These measures were aimed at assessing the quality of the joint CHA using a pre-defined set of quality indicators. The project team used surveys and focus groups with health officers and other community partners and key informants.

The majority of respondents strongly favored the regional CHA, with the overwhelming majority agreeing that the regional CHA was of higher quality than an individual one. The overall quality of regional CHA was rated highly, and most respondents agreed that it addressed the issues expected in a quality CHA. Only one respondent suggested they could definitely produce their own local CHA of equal quality and another said they possibly could. Partners in general felt that the regional CHA facilitated completion and dissemination of the assessment. Resources for technical assistance appeared to be more available regionally than locally. Only a little more than a third of the partners said that they definitely or probably could complete the same CHA for their local community.

Another noticeable finding of this project was that although difficult to measure, the joint work of multiple public health jurisdictions increased their visibility, relevance and weight, and allowed them to become more engaged in joint activities with health care organizations and other partners.

For more details about this impact measurement initiative, please email us at phsharing@khi.org. For more information about this site, read about its activities as part of the Center’s Shared Services Learning Community.