Public Release: 

Big city health departments lead the way in improving population health

Special issue of Journal of Public Health Management and Practice presents innovative strategies from urban public health leaders

Wolters Kluwer Health

December 1, 2014 - The health departments of the nation's largest cities play a central role in developing innovative population health strategies for improving public health across the United States, according to a special January issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

"Indeed, cities are at the forefront in extending public health and social policy to realize changes in our environment abetting population health," according to a commentary by Lloyd F. Novick, MD, MPH, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. The de Beaumont Foundation, in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provides support for the Big Cities Health Coalition (BCHC), a forum for the leaders of America's largest metropolitan health departments.

Big Challenges, Big Ideas for Improving Public Health

Titled "Big City Health Departments: Leadership Perspectives," the special issue presents updates and ideas from the member health departments of the BCHC. The 15 articles in the special issue highlight the efforts of urban public health departments in designing new approaches designed to make cities healthier places to live. Dr Novick cites examples including:

  • The Chicago Department of Health's comprehensive "Healthy Chicago" strategy using informatics to guide service delivery and policy, with efforts coordinated across city departments.

  • The San Francisco Health Department's broadened role in health promotion and injury prevention, focusing on "community wellness...and development of healthy and sustainable environments."

  • The City of Los Angeles General Plan, which seeks to promote healthy environments through a "multi-sectoral" approach, encompassing areas such as city public health, parks, and law enforcement.

  • Numerous cities introducing "health in all policies" approaches, including Seattle/King County, Boston, and Washington, DC.

A recurring theme is the impact of the Affordable Care Act on public health, in big cities and around the country. While its effects on expanding insurance coverage and increasing access to health services have received the most attention, the Act includes many provisions targeting public health provisions--for example, programs to improve population health by improving nutrition and physical activity and reducing smoking.

Dr Novick discusses these emerging strategies in context of the history of public health leadership in US cities, with progress depending on "political support, public health infrastructure, and systems for collecting and analyzing health data." He concludes, "We are now witnessing an even broader expanded agenda for urban public health, illustrated in this issue: health in all policies; collaboration with a network of community players; and engagement with reform of health care services."

An introductory article by James B. Sprague, MD, CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation, highlights the role of big city health departments in advancing public health at every level. He notes that the 20 members of the BCHC serve approximately 46 million Americans, or 15 percent of the population. "Working together, these cities have used their combined resources and experience to formulate new strategies and solutions to address common challenges."

Creative thinking and leadership are critical to meeting the "triple aims" of the population health approach: access, quality, and cost savings--added to the classic public health challenges of infectious disease, sanitation, and food and water safety, as well as emergency preparedness. Dr Sprague concludes, "Supporting innovation where it is most likely to occur and encouraging subsequent diffusion for uptake among a broader audience can be an effective strategy for systems change."

Click here to read "Big City Health Departments: Leadership Perspectives."

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About Journal of Public Health Management and Practice

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice publishes articles which focus on evidence based public health practice and research. The journal is a bi-monthly peer-reviewed publication guided by a multidisciplinary editorial board of administrators, practitioners and scientists. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice publishes in a wide range of population health topics including research to practice; emergency preparedness; bioterrorism; infectious disease surveillance; environmental health; community health assessment, chronic disease prevention and health promotion, and academic-practice linkages.

About Wolters Kluwer Health

Wolters Kluwer Health is a leading global provider of information, business intelligence and point-of-care solutions for the healthcare industry. Serving more than 150 countries worldwide, clinicians rely on Wolters Kluwer Health's market leading information-enabled tools and software solutions throughout their professional careers from training to research to practice. Major brands include Health Language®, Lexicomp®, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Medicom®, Medknow, Ovid®, Pharmacy OneSource®, ProVation® Medical and UpToDate®.

Wolters Kluwer Health is part of Wolters Kluwer, a market-leading global information services company. Wolters Kluwer had 2013 annual revenues of €3.6 billion ($4.7 billion), employs approximately 19,000 people worldwide, and maintains operations in over 40 countries across Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and Latin America.maintains operations in over 40 countries across Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. Wolters Kluwer is headquartered in Alphen aan den Rijn, the Netherlands. Its shares are quoted on Euronext Amsterdam (WKL) and are included in the AEX and Euronext 100 indices. Wolters Kluwer has a sponsored Level 1 American Depositary Receipt program. The ADRs are traded on the over-the-counter market in the U.S. (WTKWY).

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