Public Health - If you Don’t Measure It, How Can You Plan to Improve It?

On the APA’s March 2011 Report: Comprehensive Planning for Public Health http://www.planning.org/research/publichealth/pdf/surveyreport.pdf

In March 2011 the American Planning Association’s Planning and Community Health Research Center released a telling report on the results of their survey of draft and adopted comprehensive and sustainability plans which explicitly address public health issues.

This report indicates that across the U.S. new types of comprehensive and sustainability plans are emerging which address public health issues. That sounds like a great step forward for communities and the value that they return to their populations.

But let’s temper the enthusiasm .  This report draws attention to an alarming reality.

For an overwhelming majority of the plans that addressed public health issues respondents indicated that they did not employ any type of public health assessments or data collection tools for the purpose of identifying public health related issues in their communities.  That is kind of scary.  Long range plans and policies regarding public health are being developed and put into place and we can certainly applaud the good intentions of these plans and policies and the trailblazers that developed them.  But without any type of baseline assessments or ongoing access to metrics which will allow planners, staff and policy makers to track improvements or emerging needs, can there be an assurance of meaningful policy development and effective execution?  Are public health plans that are developed without baseline measurements and ongoing readings anymore than a shot in the dark?  Don’t plans or policies benefit from data insights which balance the struggle between politics and perceptions?

Many of you reading this already know that Buxton’s position is that insight leads to more effective outcomes.  Buxton’s SCOUT tool provides our public sector clients with data elements and models that are applied in a number of scenarios where insight and ongoing measurement are needed to develop meaningful plans and policies.

Specifically Buxton provides any entity seeking to develop or implement a public health plan with data and tools that will allow for a solid understanding of the market.

  • Food desert mitigation and food policy development insights

  • Healthcare gap analysis and ongoing disease/incident rates reporting

  • Transit insights to improve service and ridership

  • Parks and recreation planning insights

  • Energy and water conservation marketing tools

  • Identification of green adopters and overall green awareness

  • Emergency services modeling and insights to drive proactive programs to prevent injury and loss of life

  • Public education marketing channel insights

  • Detailed household level insights to track real-time change within any corner of your community

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