Achieving a Culture of Quality Improvement

The authors of this editorial take a look at how our public health system could work in the future—2026. This abstract provides an excerpt from their editorial which can be read in its entirety through the link provided.

The Vision of the Future: In 2026, as the nation paused to celebrate its 250th birthday, one thing was clear. We had become a remarkably healthier nation. And, since the beginning of the 21st century, the nation's public health system and its governmental public health departments had played an important role in this progress. The health departments' emphasis on policy and service promoted equity and health, prevented disease, lowered health care costs, and protected health.

The Present: But now in 2009, we can only aspire to that vision and plant the seeds for its growth. The current structures, statutes, mandates, and allocation of resources do not support governmental and nongovernmental public health systems that can create conditions in which populations can be healthy and in which healthier choices are the default options that enable healthy behavior. Instead, our complex patchwork of public health services results in unacceptable variation in health status.

So what happened between 2009 and 2026: Together, leaders and practitioners in the governmental public health system led the demand for change in their own organizations first, by creating a work environment that stimulated the craving for constant improvement, providing the skills, tools, and resources needed to achieve high-quality performance from all staff regardless of position, and second, by demonstrating leadership through inspiration, motivation, and financial reward.