As part of national efforts to to strengthen local public health infrastructure and improve state and local capacity to provide essential public health services, in 2010 the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) received federal funding under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to establish the Public Health District Incentive Grant (DIG) Program as part of the U.S. Center for Disease Control’s National Public Health Improvement Initiative. The five-year DIG program was established with the purpose of providing financial support for groups of municipalities across the state to either form comprehensive regional public health districts or enter into formal agreements to share resources and coordinate services. Since the program’s inception, planning and implementation grants supporting the formation of shared regional models for public health service delivery have been given to various groups of municipalities across the state.
MDPH has partnered with the Institute for Community Health to provide evaluation services and grantee technical assistance support for the DIG program, including conducting an evaluation of the planning phase of the grant and evaluation planning for the implementation phase currently underway. Ultimate goals of the DIG program include improving the quality and efficiency of local public health services, increasing the scope of services offered, strengthening the qualifications of the state’s local public health workforce, increasing and reducing disparities in capacity, preparing for eventual health system accreditation, and improving population health. It is hoped that lessons learned from the evaluation of the DIG program will help inform the growing number of public health departments in Massachusetts and across other states now considering multi-jurisdictional service sharing as a strategy for increasing local public health capacity to provide essential services and protect population health.
For more information on ICH’s work around public health infrastructure, please see the Massachusetts Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN) website. The MAPBRN is a Robert Wood Johnson funded collaboration between the Practice Office, the Regionalization Working Group, the Institute of Community Health and local public health officials to increase the development and translation of research findings that inform improvements in public health systems and health outcomes.