The goal of the National Public Health Performance Standards (NPS) project in Texas is to improve the readiness of local public health local departments to respond to emergencies as well as ongoing public health threats through the development and testing of public health performance standards.
Why Performance Standards?
The need to effectively measure public health performance is urgent. The lack of focus and resources on population based services that prevent disease, promote healthy lifestyles and ensure a healthy environment has led to outbreaks of infectious and chronic diseases that weaken the health of communities. A performance measurement system with standards will provide information to advocate for public health at state and local levels, shape policy decisions, and target resources to ultimately improve the health of the public.
Benefits of Performance Measurement:
- QUALITY IMPROVEMENT: Objective performance measures will define performance expectations, provide data for benchmarking, and become an impetus for action.
- ACCOUNTABILITY: Performance measures will provide objective data for defining the value of public health, initiating community action, and highlighting best practices.
- INCREASED SCIENCE BASE FOR PUBLIC HEALTH PRACTICE: Performance measurement data will provide a scientific basis for better decision-making, useful comparative data for evaluation, and strengthen external leverage in partnerships (Centers for Disease Control, Public Health Practice Office)
Passage of the Ten Essential Services into State Statute
The passage of House Bill 1444 by the 76th Texas Legislature broke new ground for local public health in Texas. This bill established a definition for essential public health services in Chapter 121 of the Texas Health and Safety Code, clarifying the role of public health systems in serving the general population. The following text was added to Chapter 121 (Texas Health & Safety Code): In this chapter "Essential public health services" means services to:
- monitor the health status of individuals in the community to identify community health problems;
- diagnose and investigate community health problems and community health hazards;
- inform, educate, and empower the community with respect to health issues;
- mobilize community partnerships in identifying and solving community health problems;
- develop policies and plans that support individual and community efforts to improve health;
- enforce laws and rules that protect the public health and ensure safety in accordance with those laws and rules;
- link individuals who have a need for community and personal health services to appropriate community and private providers;
- ensure a competent workforce for the provision of essential public health services;
- research new insights and innovative solutions to community health problems;
- evaluate the effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population based health services in a community.
This definition provides a common language for state and local public health systems to develop a rational system of essential public health services for the state-- complementary to the ongoing effort to maintain a health care safety net for medically indigent individuals. While some of the essential services can only be performed at the state level, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) believes that effective public health systems depend on a strong base at the local level.