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Evaluation is critical to a population health approach, and goes beyond proving that interventions are having the desired effect of improving health and reducing cost. It can help us understand what worked, what didn’t, and why. Thoughtful evaluation contributes to sustainability and continuous improvement.
- Outcome measures tell us about progress in achieving desired health outcomes.
- Process measures tell us about progress in implementing activities as intended.
- The most effective population health initiatives evaluate both process and outcomes.
Challenge: Processes and actions change more quickly than health outcomes.
Try: Identify accomplishments that progress toward a health outcome. Example: measuring the number of breastfeeding friendly workplaces as an accomplishment toward increased breastfeeding rates.
Challenge: It may be difficult for partners to understand how you’re measuring success.
Try: You can give them context by clearly outlining your goals. Then, show how each metric relates to one or more of the goals. For help in communicating your goals, visit the Communications section.
Challenge: Measuring improvement in total population health may not measure improvement in health equity.
Try: Break down data by subpopulation as much as possible, and supplement quantitative data with qualitative data specifically focused on disparate populations within the larger total. These results can inform decisions about actions to address health equity.
Challenge: Need for data, not all of which are currently available, may surface as the work is in process.
Try: When you realize a type of data would be helpful that is not currently available, contact your Local Health Jurisdiction for assistance, and to share your feedback. Knowing what local partners need helps state and local agencies plan future evaluations.
Challenge: Partners may need technical assistance from trained evaluation professionals.
Try: Reach out to the Washington State Department of Health, Local Health Jurisdictions, and academic institutions. They are staffed with credentialed epidemiologists who can provide technical assistance and connection to resources and additional partners.
- CMS's Role in Improving Population Health, New England Journal of Medicine
- "Metrics That Matter for Population Health Action”, NationalAcademies.org
- Health-Related Quality of Life; Methods and Measures, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Healthier Washington Common Measures, Health Care Authority (HCA)
- Hints for Conducting Strong Evaluations, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Suggested Population Level Measures, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)