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How to Monitor Community Health: Community Health Program Principles

Monitoring community health offers analytics and reports designed to provide a complete overview of local health data within a community. This includes dashboard and custom reporting along with data from multiple data sources. Data sources may consist of hospital discharge records, community notification boards, state databases, public health information systems, and the Internet.

This program aims at promoting healthy living and reducing the disease burden among communities. It is therefore vital for communities to monitor their health using a variety of tools. Communities have several strategies to implement, such as promoting community awareness and participation through community health campaigns, collecting and analyzing data to create evidence-based research, and evaluating programs and policies to improve health.

Collect and Evaluate Data

One of the most effective ways to measure community health is collecting and evaluating data regarding public health interventions. For instance, community health experts may survey to determine the effectiveness of a local plan to reduce the smoking prevalence or increase the availability of affordable tobacco alternatives. Public health is often considered an area of expertise that only physicians can provide. However, community health departments can also provide important information regarding public health interventions that are more suitable for smaller communities, such as schools, daycare centers, and other non-medical organizations.

Identify and Measure Health Status

The core principles of community health monitoring are identifying and measuring the health status of the population, monitoring the demographic makeup of the community, collecting and evaluating data, and communicating the findings to the decision-makers. It is vital for communities to monitor their health and share the data with other stakeholders such as providers, organizations administering services, and other government agencies. Experts recommend regularly surveying communities for improvements and modifications in services or procedures that could improve health status. Surveys are also conducted to determine changes in the existing service delivery model.

Community health programs are designed to address the general health needs of the community rather than addressing a narrow illness profile. Some community health programs focus on preventing disease or controlling health outcomes. Others focus on managing chronic diseases and conditions, improving access to quality health care, and benchmarking performance. Other core principles of community health programs include promoting healthy food choices and physical activity, maintaining physical independence and participation in community activities, and education and counseling about health. These programs promote quality-of-life opportunities for all residents, strengthen the economy, and reduce overall poverty and health disparities. In addition, they reduce environmental health risks, improve community sanitation, and provide emergency health care.

Many communities have made headway toward these core principles of community health by implementing preventative services and programs, assessing health risk factors, evaluating the community’s health, and promoting quality-of-life opportunities. There are now several organizations and jurisdictions that have developed guidelines for proper community health monitoring. Some of these are the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Burden of Disease study, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the National Health Information Center (NHLIC).

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