Creating Multisector Partnerships to Share Data through the All In Network

by Travis Parker Lee

Focus on Accreditation and Innovation addresses current issues related to the Public Health Accreditation Board’s national public health department accreditation program, and the Public Health National Center for Innovations. This series highlights the experiences and perspectives of accredited health departments and explores topics related to the Standards and Measures, research and evaluation findings, and the latest innovations in public health practice.

Creating multisector partnerships

All In: Data for Community Health is a learning network of communities that are testing exciting new ways to systematically improve community health outcomes through multisector partnerships working to share data. All In partner networks are building the evidence base to advance practice, identify gaps, highlight investment needs, and inform policy. All In is a dynamic and continually evolving partnership of over 100 national and regional programs that have joined forces to coordinate technical assistance and facilitate peer-to-peer learning activities for those tackling common challenges.

The Public Health National Center for Innovations (PHNCI) joined All In to partner with other national organizations implementing similar initiatives to improve communities, and to include its learning communities of grantees representing 21st century public health, innovation, and innovation replication projects in the diverse collaborative network that connects members with tools, resources, and expertise to help advance efforts. Through All In, PHNCI’s grantees have contact to broader health systems and community partners working on projects related to data sharing and multisector collaboration, and are able to connect, share, and learn from one another.

Health departments have often been cited as having engaged with partners and residents for community health improvement planning, and now are leveraging those and other relationships to bring the benefits of partnerships to bear on other aspects of their work, whether it’s health in all policies, working with data, addressing mental health, and more. Engaging with multisector partners and the community to co-produce products, services, and policies can bring additional perspectives, break down silos, help with both identifying and addressing community needs, and in developing solutions that are likely to better meet those needs. Partners may also be better situated within the community to execute solutions, whether due to resources, location, or existing relationships and trust with the community.

In DuPage County, Illinois, the DuPage County Health Department (DCHD) has partnered with the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office to implement the DuPage County Post-Crisis Response Team where a mental health clinician and a sheriff’s deputy conduct follow-up visits with individuals with potential mental health issues who have previously encountered law enforcement, and link them to appropriate care. This unique partnership has created opportunities for data collection, analysis, and sharing, and includes an aim to standardize Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) codes used to document mental health-related calls to law enforcement. DuPage County has over 30 different police municipalities, all of whom may classify mental health codes differently. DCHD is seeking to take stock of the most commonly used codes and use this information to recommend streamlined UCR codes, ultimately to make the process of assessing frequency, location, and type of mental health crisis calls easier for community stakeholders. While data sharing between different agencies is complicated by legal considerations over private client information, developing a central log continues to be a main focus of the project.

In Garrett County, Maryland, the Garrett County Health Department has created an online planning tool to change the way public health is engaging with the community, encouraging transparent dialogue between health department staff, agency stakeholders, and the public as a key component in improving equity and building capacity to make data-driven decisions. The intention of the Universal Community Planning Tool (UCPT) is to digitally help communities create a vision based on data collected about their current needs by meaningfully and transparently engaging all residents. The UCPT is an innovation in public health utilizing open-source technology as a framework to equip and engage communities in the creation of sustainable strategies from multisectoral partners. In the community forum, individuals have the space to openly discuss issues of concern or interest and suggest community solutions. Community feedback on such a large scale informs the development of topical metrics that are prioritized by partners for improvement planning, implementation, and tracking over time. This process is an important step toward ensuring that activities reflect what is most important in the community. Action groups are created to stimulate and mobilize discussions from the community forum and actualize strategies for community improvement. Within action groups, multisectoral partners work collectively on a strategy, reporting incremental data that ensures responsiveness of the public health system partners. Ultimately, this allows for the collection of hyperlocal data that can be used to measure specific strategies.

In Chicago, Illinois, researchers at the University of Chicago’s Center for Spatial Data Science and School of Social Service Administration, in collaboration with the Chicago Department of Public Health, are analyzing data to identify where government funding for health services is spent in relation to need. By computing access scores and per capita spending using data on social service contracts and low-wage earners, analytics can be used to make data-driven decisions on where funding could be spent to decrease gaps in service access. Through design thinking, the team has developed a replicable, scalable, and open‐source spatial analytic framework and web‐based tool to display geographic access data, allowing for other communities to improve their own distribution of public funds for health and health‐related social services.

While only three examples of multisector and data sharing work are highlighted here, there are countless other examples of health departments and communities engaging in meaningful collaboration to improve population health. Through the All In network, these communities are learning from one another to further enhance community health improvement and outcomes. Interested in joining All In? Membership is free, and anyone can participate! If you’re new to All In, the first step is to sign up for the online community and create an individual member profile. Make sure to also sign up for the monthly All In e-newsletter to stay informed about upcoming opportunities.

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Author Profile

Travis Parker Lee
Travis Parker Lee, MBA, is the Program Specialist for the Public Health National Center for Innovations (PHNCI) at the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), contributing to efforts to align and foster innovation in public health practice. Previously, he served as a Program Specialist for PHAB for six years.