• NQF recently released an updated handbook to support collaborative efforts to improve population health. The handbook, Improving Population Health by Working with Communities—Action Guide 2.0, shares elements to consider when engaging in collaborative health improvement projects, and includes examples and links to practical resources. It was revised with feedback from field testing in 10 communities across the nation.

    NQF continues our series of Q&As with field testing groups (FTGs) with a conversation with Beth Roszatycki, chief executive officer of the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance (MiHIA), a nonprofit, multistakeholder community collaboration working to improve health and health delivery in central Michigan. Founded in 2007, MiHIA helps develop regional health improvement activities that complement and leverage county-level efforts to address public health concerns. Stakeholders include public health and healthcare organizations, local colleges and universities, businesses, social services providers, and community foundations.

    NQF: How would you describe your community?

    BR: The MiHIA Community is a 14-county region that is predominantly rural and farmland, but also includes the moderately sized cities of Saginaw, Midland, Bay City, and Mt. Pleasant. The region’s population is about 770,000 people. The area is home to several healthcare systems and universities, as well as some large employers, including The Dow Chemical Company in Midland County.

    NQF: What are the biggest challenges your community faces?

    Six of the counties in the MiHIA community rank among the least healthy in the state of Michigan, according to the 2015 County Health Rankings, an important “report card” of the health of communities across the nation. Areas where we really need to see improvement include adult obesity, tobacco use, and lack of physical activity.

    MiHIA has established a Population Health Strategy team to develop system-level improvement activities that complement and leverage county-level efforts and address gaps. One of the first initiatives of the population health team is to educate numerous community sectors about the counties’ health status, identify potential interventions and resources, and help them to talk about MiHIA’s work to address the specific identified challenges. Another MiHIA initiative to address serious healthcare concerns includes an effort to train diabetes prevention educators and hold diabetes prevention classes for people at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

    NQF: How has participating in NQF’s Population Health Framework project helped to further MiHIA’s work?

    BR: MiHIA has benefited from information sharing among the FTGs and from new relationships that have formed among the testing groups. The FTG participation brought attention to what we are doing locally and nationally, and we have referenced our work with NQF to add credibility to our grant applications. I frequently use the resources and links that NQF provides in the action guide and share these resources with our partners within the region. In addition, we heard from at least one of the counties in our region that the action guide was helpful in its community health improvement planning process.

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