Using Information Systems to Improve a Mid-Sized Local Health Department's Effectiveness in a Time of Rapid Change

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Informatics capacity building is resource and personnel intensive. Many local health departments (LHDs) face tradeoffs between using their resources to carry out existing mandates and using resources to build their capacity, for example, through informatics, to deliver essential services in a more effective and efficient manner.


The purpose of this case study is to describe how a mid-sized LHD built and used information systems to support its strategic objectives, clinical services, and surveillance.


The mid-sized LHD described here was chosen for its “best practices” in informatics capacity building and use by NACCHO's study advisory committee. To conduct the case study, authors reviewed departmental documents and conducted semistructured interviews with key informants in the agency. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, thematically coded, and analyzed.

Results and Conclusions:

Findings from the case study suggest that including capacity building in informatics as a strategic priority is one of the most effective ways to ensure that informatics are assessed, updated, and included in resource decisions. Leadership at all levels is critical to the successful implementation of informatics as is proactive partnership with community partners who have overlapping goals. The efficiency and effectiveness of LHDs rely on informatics capacity, especially when resources are challenged.

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