Planning for the Future: The Importance of Sustainability in Public Health Initiatives and Innovations

National Public Health Week 2024 provides an opportunity to recognize the important contributions of state and local departments of health that provide public health resources needed to achieve the highest level of health in communities. As we adjust and adapt to new norms, North Highland is a committed partner for states, helping to craft and implement transformational strategies and sustainable infrastructure that generate value and lasting change for the future of public health. North Highland partners with Agencies to identify and address the factors that will have a continued impact on current and future initiatives.

Sustainability is paramount to grant-funded public health initiatives as it influences the achievement of long-term health outcomes while managing limited resources. Based on current research and the experience of our subject matter experts, North Highland has identified 5 sustainability factors that contribute to the longevity of public health initiatives.  

  1. Leadership Engagement and Resource Allocation

    Leadership engagement is prioritized initially to set the direction and secure necessary resources. Leaders help align on the direction and ensure sufficient resources are allocated early. Activities can include inviting leaders to regularly scheduled planning and update meetings, developing or reassessing program goals to align with the organization’s long-term goals and strategies, and ensuring leaders play a key role in obtaining funding, human capital, and technology for continued success.  

  2. Community Fit and Engagement

    Consistently engaging with the community is crucial to gaining support and navigating regulatory approvals. It ensures project alignment with communities' short-term and ongoing support needs. Activities can include engaging with community members to understand needs, stakeholders, and funding opportunities, establishing connections with local hospitals, providers, and community organizations, and ensuring that new ways of working align with the communities’ needs and interests.

  3. Partnership Development and Agreements

    Building strong partnerships is essential for long-term ownership and collaborative success. Activities can include assessing the level of partnership engagement needed, including partners in pre-implementation conversations, and actively supporting new ways of working and ownership. Developing agreements with partners can support continued contribution after the initial grant period.

  4. Ongoing Outcomes Monitoring

    Establishing outcomes and monitoring progress are critical for building a story for longstanding success. Monitoring and measuring outcomes help build the business case for continued investment. Activities can include establishing goals, benchmarks, and feedback mechanisms for continuous monitoring and improvement, conducting assessment activities to identify themes and areas for focused improvement, and monitoring defined targets to determine if desired outcomes are being achieved.  

  5. Sustainable Funding Strategies

    Identifying areas of new and sustainable funding or adapting strategies can be instrumental in achieving planned goals. Activities can include conducting studies to identify existing or underutilized funds, researching local or state-level funding to replace expiring grant funding, and securing new reimbursements or developing new fee structures. Analyzing business processes to identify and improve inefficiencies and skill gaps can ensure programs are receiving the maximum benefit from funding. Allocating resources efficiently contributes to project momentum and longevity.

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