Public Health's "A-Ha!" Moment and What it Means for the American People

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, delivered the keynote speech to the fifth joint conference of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) at the Sacramento (Calif.) Convention Center.

Speaking to the general theme of the conference, "Becoming the Healthiest Nation in a Healthier World," Lavizzo-Mourey said that a healthier America can be achieved by establishing a "new public health" that thrives on partnerships and that is "firmly set on a fresh foundation of accreditation, quality improvement, performance standards, advocacy, and a relentless reliance on research and evidence."

For when public health leaders think a problem is too big to solve, Lavizzo-Mourey describes the “A-Ha!” moment—when experience, research and evidence connect to provide insight to understand exactly what is needed, and the conviction to take action.

She calls for public health leaders to demonstrate the value of their work by showing decision-makers tangible, measurable results—the return on the public's investment.

“The lack of convincing, compelling evidence has been public health’s major stumbling block for many years. Until now, that is. Now you are able to build the evidence base you have been missing. Now you have the one thing that is certain to get the attention of the decision-makers. Now you can show them the money, show them the ROI—the return on their investment.”