Using Quality Improvement to Improve Internal and External Coordination and Referrals

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Abstract

As part of accreditation, Public Health Accreditation Board site visitors recommended that the New Orleans Health Department strengthen its quality improvement program. With support from the Public Health Accreditation Board, the New Orleans Health Department subsequently embarked on a data-driven planning process through which it prioritized quality improvement projects for 2016. One of these projects aimed to improve referrals to New Orleans Health Department's direct services programs from local clinics and hospitals to better provide our most vulnerable residents with a continuum of care. After completing a cause-and-effect analysis, we implemented a solution involving increased outreach to health care institutions and saw annual participation increase in 3 out of 4 of our programs. We leveraged this work to successfully apply for funding to create a centralized referral system, which will facilitate partnerships among local health and human service agencies and improve access to services. This is one example of how accreditation has benefited our health department and our community. We have found that the accreditation process promotes a culture of quality and helps health departments identify and address areas for improvement.

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