Category Archives: NNPHI

Jun 7 2012

Public Health Institutes: Lessons Learned

The National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) Annual Conference in New Orleans, La., concluded late last month. Now that the conference materials and presentations are available for download, we caught up with some of the attendees and NNPHI leaders to get their thoughts on conference highlights.

Ellen Rautenberg, President and CEO, Public Health Solutions and NNPHI Board Chair:

“Dr. Jo Ivey Boufford, a keynote speaker discussed activities Institutes are currently doing at the intersection of public health and primary care and provided her thoughts as to how Institutes might expand on these. She felt that Institutes were perfectly poised to keep the attention of policy makers on population health as they address cost and quality of the health care system.”

Bob St. Peter, President and CEO, Kansas Health Institute:

“It was a great conference. NNPHI walked the talk of multi-sectorial partnership. What other public health conference could you go to where the three keynote speakers are from the New York Academy of Medicine, the Federal Reserve Bank and AcademyHealth? Thinking beyond our traditional partners in public health is becoming increasingly important as our health system hopefully moves to one that is more accountable and more effective.”

NewPublicHealth also spoke with Christopher Kinabrew, MPH, MSW, director of Government and External Affairs for NNPHI to capture conference themes and highlights of the hallway conversations.

NewPublicHealth: What were some of the themes you heard in conversations by attendees?

Christopher Kinabrew: In terms of some of the themes that came through, one important one was that now more than ever, neutral conveners are needed at the state and local level for so many different initiatives. This is critical now in areas such as building bridges between health care and public health. That came through in the keynote from Jo Ivey Boufford and the discussion on the Institute of Medicine report.

There’s also this concept of “backbone organizations.” For many of these initiatives, it’s not a one-time thing. For community health assessments, for example—there’s the assessment itself, but then after that there’s a whole community improvement process. There needs to be some accountability and structure for that to happen. More and more we’re seeing the need for a backbone organization to continue that work. In some cases it’s the public health institute, and in other cases it’s an organization that spun off. I heard in some of the hallway conversations, some examples in the area of health information exchange where the public health institute incubated the exchange, but then in the end it became its own separate entity.

NPH: What other themes did you hear?

Christopher Kinabrew: Health reform was also a big theme for us at the meeting. There were so many comments that regardless of the outcome, “the genie’s out of the bottle.” These changes are happening. The decision will have an impact, but in many of these initiatives the conversation has already changed, so prevention is going to move forward regardless.

Another theme was about funding being consistently under attack. There was a lot of conversation about public health institutes being a hub or a nexus for alternative funding mechanisms. We’ve known for a while that the institutes are good at leveraging federal funding, private foundation funding, and contracts with state and local funding health departments—they’re able to do some things that perhaps other organizations can’t do because of that funding mix. David Erickson from the Federal Reserve also got people thinking about even more alternative financing and funding mechanisms for public health, in terms of working with community development financial institutions.

NPH: From what you learned at the meeting and during David Erickson’s presentation, what are some of the ways public health institutes, health departments and community development institutions can work together?

Christopher Kinabrew: It’s really about putting the social determinants of health into action. He made the comment that community development folks might need to change their language and terminology to say “we’re in the health business.” In terms of the evaluation and measurement of these investments, public health partners could bring the type of robust evaluation that goes on in the health sector to the table for community development. There was a lot of interest in increasing capacity across our membership in health impact assessments. That’s an areas where we could all work together to put some health measures in community development investments and boost the evaluation capacity. That’s an area where our members do tend to be really strong.

>>Read more on community development work to improve public health.

It’s not new to see our members working across sectors, but to me in this conference there was a marked difference in really working upstream across sectors to advance a health in all policies approach. This is something that’s talked about in the National Prevention Strategy. We held a breakout on health in all policies around the intersection of agriculture, food systems and public health. That session was packed.

NPH: You moderated the Town Hall on community health assessment. What came out of this discussion?

>>Read up on community health assessment as part of community benefit initiatives.

Christopher Kinabrew: We featured two national organizations—The Hilltop Institute and United Way Worldwide. We know from our members that first and foremost they want to share what they do and are looking for best practices. Martha Somerville, director of Hilltop’s Hospital Community Benefit program, laid the groundwork on community benefit responsibilities for nonprofit hospitals and for how public health institutes could facilitate meaningful collaboration between hospitals, health departments and community-based organizations. In her presentation and throughout all of the presentations, there was a theme that it’s not just about the needs assessment—it’s also about the community health improvement planning and the structure for implementing those strategies.

From Sandra Serna Smith at the United Way, we heard about their massive coverage and the strength of their network, in terms of covering 95 percent of the population. What was also interesting was learning about the United Way’s three pillars—education, income and health. They made the point that if any one of these isn’t strong, the rest fall. That really resonates well with our members.

We had Kevin Barnett from the Public Health Institute moderating the session. That was a great opportunity because he’s a content expert in community benefit and community health assessment. Two of our members also shared their experiences from the ground—the Texas Health Institute, which brought one of the local public health departments they worked with, and they told the story of how they worked together. Laurie Call from the Illinois Public Health Institute compared and contrasted her experience with two different counties. All of these examples included robust partnerships with public health institutes, health departments and hospitals, and United Ways were often involved sometimes as a funder but also as a partner in implementation.

An interesting question from the audience was, what sector didn’t you include in the process that you would have looking back? Both local panelists mentioned transportation. Looking ahead, that’s maybe a key sector we want to involve next year.

>>Read the rest of our NNPHI Annual Conference coverage.

May 24 2012

Jo Ivey Boufford: Q&A at the National Network of Public Health Institutes Annual Conference

Jo Ivey Boufford, MD, president of the New York Academy of Medicine, was a keynote speaker this week at the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) Annual Conference in New Orleans, La.

>>Watch Dr. Boufford in a video series on working together to make communities healthier places to live:

Watch live streaming video from frbsf at

NewPublicHealth spoke with Dr. Boufford about the conference theme, “Leveraging Public Health Institutes for Systems Change.”

NPH: The theme of the conference is leveraging public health institutes for systems change. What systems do you think need changing to improve population health?

Dr. Boufford: I think there are really two major components to a public health system. One of them obviously is the governmental public health infrastructure—the public health agencies at state and local levels that are really charged to assure the health of the public, by detecting illness and promoting health information and trying to change environments so people can live in healthier communities. A lot of reports have shown that that part of the health system has historically been very under-invested in, and it needs to be shorn up. I think the national public health institutes should be strong advocates and partners of the governmental public health agencies in leveraging resources to improve population health.

The other part of the system is the personal health care system, which is and potentially will be undergoing dramatic change with the Accountable Care Act (ACA). There are a number of opportunities to get better population health impact out of the personal health care system, such as looking at the role of community health centers, of medical homes, of accountable care organization models to improve the health of a geographic community or particular population over time. So I would say those are the two big opportunities, and public health institutes in states need to work closely to take full advantage of the opportunities for populations.

NPH: What other key roles do you see public health institutes playing in improving population health?

Read more

May 21 2012

NNPHI Annual Conference Highlights

The National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) Annual Conference kicks off today in New Orleans, La. Public health institutes are nonprofit entities that serve as partners and conveners to improve population-level health outcomes and help to foster innovations in the public health system. They serve as hubs of innovation, provide technical assistance, and offer a neutral point of convening to governmental public health agencies as well as other critical stakeholders.

This year's conference theme, "Leveraging Public Health Institutes for Systems Change," will share examples of public health institutes working in close collaboration with state and local health departments and a broad range of other partners to support opportunities for systems change. There are some new and interesting developments at this year's Annual Conference, which has seen an uptick in registration from around 120 attendees in previous years to more than 200 attendees this year (impressive in an era when travel budgets are scarce).

NNPHI also recently released a new call for proposals, with funding support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, to enhance the performance of the public health system by supporting additional states to use the public health institute model to help address their pressing health challenges. The project will fund up to two states to advance efforts to establish a public health institute that meets NNPHI’s definition, with an ultimate goal of improving these states’ public health systems.

NewPublicHealth spoke with Christopher Kinabrew, MPH, MSW, Director of Government and External Affairs for NNPHI, for some highlights of this year’s conference:

  • David Erickson, PhD, Manager of the Center for Community Development Investments at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, will be a keynote speaker and continued NNPHI collaborator in discussing the potential around keeping the relationship between public health and community development alive.
  • Work is underway to determine the feasibility of developing a national tribal public health institute that addresses the needs and concerns of the 565 federally recognized American Indian tribes in the United States. The group spearheading this effort will be at the NNPHI conference for the first time this year.
  • A Community Health Assessment Town Hall with representatives from the Hilltop Institute, United Way Worldwide and several public health institutes, will explore opportunities for collaboration around assessments, such as between public health and hospitals around new community benefit requirements.

>>Continue to follow NewPublicHealth coverage of the NNPHI Annual Conference this week.

May 19 2011

NNPHI Annual Conference: Talking With Robert Ross, President of the California Endowment


Public health, institutes and health philanthropy share the burden and opportunity of driving a prevention, health equity and social determinants of health agenda, said Robert Ross, M.D., president and C.E.O. of the California Endowment, a private health foundation working to improve the health status of all Californians.

Ross was a keynote speaker at the tenth annual conference of the National Network of Public Health Institutes, which met this week in New Orleans.

Ross says the Endowment works to transform unhealthy communities for kids into healthy ones. He notes that in addition to the need for innovative ways to prevent chronic disease at the community level, and the science base to support it, we must recognize the immensely important role that politics and power play in scaling systemic change. “The half-century tobacco wars in our nation are a case in point,” Ross points out.

Ross says that there is a "new normal" in the health and health care environment including budget cuts, safety net cuts, ACA implementation and political wars, and the downsizing of government.

“Public health institutes play a role in helping translate practice and research into policy and systemic change at the state and regional level,” he says.

Ross also argues that a need exists to be more attentive for new strategies and ways to advance the prevention and public health approach to improving health and cutting costs.

And, says Ross, public health institutes and health philanthropy must find ways to “Tao into successful community based innovative practices and lift up successes via effective storytelling for impact.”

May 17 2011

Advancing Partnerships, Innovation to Improve Public Health: A Q&A with Joseph Kimbrell, National Network of Public Health Institutes


Public health institutes are nonprofit entities that serve as partners and conveners to improve population-level health outcomes and help to foster innovations in the public health system. Among their many roles, the institutes can leverage resources and bring multiple stakeholders—state and local health departments and academic, community and foundation partners—to the table. They also help to teach and train the public health workforce and health care providers, and provide research and evaluation services, and can play a unique role educating policy-makers on health issues and can help promote policy change.

This week the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) is holding its 10th Annual Conference in New Orleans. This year’s theme is "Ten Years of Innovations in Public Health, A Lifetime of Healthier Communities.” NewPublic Health spoke with Joseph Kimbrell, M.A., L.C.S.W., chief executive officer of both NNPHI and of the Louisiana Public Health Institute, about key contributions the organization has made to public health innovation and service delivery.

NPH: Tell us about some key projects public health institutes are working on.

Kimbrell: The public health institute in Georgia has done a lot of work educating legislators about population health policies. And in California the institute has been innovative in approaches to addressing obesity from a nutrition/physical activity perspective. For example;

  • An organization called Dialogue4Health is being funded by the Institute to demonstrate the utility of web-based technology in the development of policies to support active living and healthy eating in California.
  • California Project LEAN (Leaders Encouraging Activity and Nutrition) (CPL), of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), provides technical assistance to communities seeking to improve school food and physical activity environments. CPL contributes to the development of statewide school nutrition and PA policy agenda and educates key organizations.

NPH:Not all states have a Public Health Institute. How do you explain the value for establishing an institute in a new state or a new region?

Kimbrell: The value is really in creating a mechanism to be able to address population health from a public-private partnership perspective-and to do that in a way that it can be done efficiently. And I think that’s why people seek us out to work with them on a variety of initiatives. So that they’re bringing that multi-sector partnership together in a way that many traditional organizations find more difficult to do. We also have the nimbleness of being able to hire and contract and implement in a timely way.

NPH:What is some of the work the institutes have done around evidence-based practices?

Kimbrell: A number of institutes have done public health impact assessments. Georgia has had a great deal of experience in doing HIAs-a number of staff from the Public Health Institute have been trained in the process, and we’re working with the Health Impact Project (a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts) to do more training, so that we have more folks throughout the country who understand and can implement that process in their communities.

Preparation for national public health accreditation is [another] good example. NNPHI managed a learning collaborative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation around quality improvement that would help promote accreditation. That involved sixteen states throughout the country. These were the early adaptors that were laying the ground work for being able to have an accredited public health organization. And they did that with an emphasis on quality improvement-how they function as an organization, how did their quality improve? So, it was also about organizational change and changing culture in order to have a quality improvement culture-and that I think has had an enormous impact on the participants as well as the national movement.

We feel like that program created a learning community that will continue over time to learn from each other on best and promising practices about state and local health department accreditation.

NPH: Do you have a story about a public health institute collaboration that has resulted in improved outcomes?

Kimbrell: In Louisiana, we’ve enlisted the musician community as key partners in promoting smoke-free music venues which are predominately in many bars in the state. That’s been extraordinarily successful in creating numerous smoke-free music environments, particularly in the metropolitan New Orleans area.

Read previous Q&As with newsmakers and difference makers in public health.