James S. Marks, M.D., M.P.H., senior vice president and director of the Health Group at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provided remarks at the First Annual Keeneland Public Health Systems and Services Research Conference held at the University of Kentucky. Marks outlined how public health systems and services research can shape the future of public health and strengthen the field.
“We need to build the evidence base of what works and what doesn‘t, what types of systems and programs support or inhibit health improvements, what's the best way to spend scarce public dollars to ensure the most impact, and what more could happen if more dollars were invested in public health.”
“The states vary greatly in their support for public health, from a low of less than $4 in Nevada, to a high of $152 in Hawaii. Does it matter? Where more is spent, is health really better? What is the right amount to spend? What should the money be spent on? What protocols should be adopted? What are the best practices? We are beginning to answer these kinds of questions for clinical care, but we can't answer them for public health."
“Whether you're in Lexington, Ky. or Lexington, Mass., you should be able to compare your county to others, and know what to expect from your health department. Once quality and performance can be measured and compared, the public can begin to judge public health performance, [and] demand accountability…”