The use of a performance management system is required by PHAB for national public health accreditation, but using the right system will have long-term benefits for your health department. An effective performance management system can help you create alignment not only within your public health department (by streamlining Quality Improvement Plans and Department Strategic Plans) but also statewide, aligning the State Health Assessment and the State Health Improvement Plan with local and tribal health assessments and health improvement plans.

A great system can also help you demonstrate your commitment to performance management, continuous improvement, and accountability in meeting PHAB standards and measures.

Not all performance management systems are created alike, and not all will help you meet these goals. Furthermore, a project management system isn’t enough because it focuses on implementation and task completion rather than impact and continuous improvement.

We have identified 3 important characteristics that your performance management system should meet in order to create alignment, engage in continuous improvement, and meet the PHAB standards and measures:

continuous improvement

  1. Drives continuous improvement at every level

Your system should allow you to view, at a macro-perspective, the connection between program-level strategies and population-level strategies. Additionally, you will want to be able to drill down into micro-level strategies (this can be local or tribal, or program performance.

This means being able to see what’s happening at a program or local level and how these efforts fit into overarching or statewide strategies. When the system allows you to see both perspectives, this will help you track, share, and align across the results that you see. It will be much easier to visualize the cumulative effect of departmental-level programs and strategies on population health and demonstrate this connection to PHAB.

agreggated measures

  1. Aggregates, engages, and shares across stakeholders

You’ll want your system to allow you to aggregate data and learning to engage (and allow others to be engaged) and to share across stakeholders. On one hand, you aggregate when you’re working across the population level or statewide, and you disaggregate in terms of either programs or different local jurisdictions.

The system must allow people to see not just the data and trend lines, or what you’re doing, but the all-important link between the data and the strategy, and the thinking that is behind it (we call this the “story behind the curve”). What is the story behind the curve that informed your strategy, and can you share it? That’s where the gold is. That’s where you’re going to start learning from each other.

You should be able to take the whole comprehensive picture and have people be able to see how it’s all tied together. This is where you can do effective root-cause analysis, talk about major trends, and create the buy-in across the state (or across the local jurisdiction) for the kind of strategies and strategic priorities you want to implement.

It’s so important that your system allows for this kind of engagement, and it’s only going to do that if people can see the thinking behind the data and strategies.

health department plans

  1. Links departmental plans

✓ Community Health Assessment

✓ Community Health Improvement Plan

✓ Department Strategic Plan

✓ Workforce Development Plan

✓ Quality Improvement Plan

It’s often a two-way street, but arguably, you would start with your local and tribal health assessments, garner what you can at the more local/granular level, and use that information to inform your assessment statewide.

The same goes for linking health improvement plans. You should be able to create linkages at two different levels. Start with priorities statewide, and look at how each program or area of focus is being rolled out. At the same time, you will want to know that these have cascaded down – that community and tribal health improvement plans align with the statewide improvement plan.

PHAB wants to know that you are doing this work on an ongoing basis (engaging in continuous improvement at every level). Your system should allow you to track your health improvement plans and see if they are turning the curve at every level, on whatever it is that you’re tracking and accountable for.

Finally, you should be able to connect your strategic plan, workforce development plan, and quality improvement plan. You should be able to see how what the department is doing fits into statewide efforts. At the same time, you should be able to drill down into departmental performance itself.

When you put all this together, what you’re presenting to PHAB for accreditation and reaccreditation and what you’re developing and actualizing in your department, is a learning organization – and (because you are the nexus of population health), a learning community. This is all in service of improving the health of all those who your department serves, in its state or local jurisdiction.

If you took these three keys and put them in a performance management system, what would it look like?

You can find the answer to these questions in:

Blog: What is the Best Performance Management System for PHAB Accreditation?

Webinar: Creating Alignment to Streamline and Maintain PHAB Accreditation (fast forward to 23:40 – 30:33).