(excerpted from "The Essential Services of Public Health" by James A. Harrell, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and Edward L. Baker, MD, MPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Essential Services Work Group)
- Monitor health status to identify and solve community health problems
This service includes accurate diagnosis of the community's health status; identification of threats to health and assessment of health service needs; timely collection, analysis, and publication of information on access, utilization, costs, and outcomes of personal health services; attention to the vital statistics and health status of specific groups that are at higher risk than the total population; and collaboration to manage integrated information systems with private providers and health benefit plans.
- Diagnose and investigate health problems and health hazards in the community
This service includes technical capacity for epidemiological investigation of disease outbreaks and patterns of infectious and chronic diseases, injuries, and other adverse health conditions. This capacity includes the public health infrastructure necessary to conduct population-based screening, case-finding, investigation, and the scientific analysis of health problems.
- Inform, educate, and empower people about health issues
This service involves social marketing and targeted media public communication; providing health information resources at community levels; active collaboration with personal health care providers to reinforce health promotion messages and programs; and joint health education programs with schools, churches, and worksites.
- Mobilize community partnerships and action to identify and solve health problems
This service involves convening and facilitating community groups and associations, including those not typically considered to be health-related, in undertaking defined preventive, screening, rehabilitation, and support programs; and skilled coalition-building ability in order to draw upon the full range of potential human and material resources in the cause of community health.
- Develop policies and plans that support individual and community health efforts
This service requires leadership development at all levels of public health; systematic community-level and state-level planning for health improvement in all jurisdictions; development and tracking of measurable health objectives as a part of continuous quality improvement strategies; joint evaluation with the medical health care systems to define consistent policy regarding prevention and treatment services; and development of codes, regulations and legislation to guide the practice of public health.
- Enforce laws and regulations that protect health and ensure safety
This service involves full enforcement of sanitary codes, especially in the food industry; full protection of drinking water supplies; enforcement of clean air standards; timely follow-up of hazards, preventable injuries, and exposure-related diseases identified in occupational and community settings; monitoring quality of medical services (e.g.) laboratory, nursing homes, and home health care); and timely review of new drug, biologic, and medical device applications.
- Link people to needed personal health services and assure the provision of health care when otherwise unavailable
This service includes education and training for personnel to meet the needs for public and personal health service; efficient processes for licensure of professionals and certification of facilities with regular verification and inspection follow-up; adoption of continuous quality improvement and lifelong learning within all licensure and certification programs; active partnerships with professional training programs to assure community relevant learning experiences for all students; and continuing education in management and leadership development programs for those charged with administrative/executive roles.
- Assure a competent public health and personal health care workforce
This service includes education, training, development, and assessment of personnel--including partners, volunteers and other lay community health workers--to meet state-wide needs for public and personal health services.
- Evaluate effectiveness, accessibility, and quality of personal and population-based health services
This service calls for ongoing evaluation of health problems, based on analysis of health status and service utilization data, to assess program effectiveness and to provide information necessary for allocating resources and reshaping programs.
- Research for new insights and innovative solutions to health problems
This service includes continuous linkage with appropriate institutions of higher learning and research and an internal capacity to mount timely epidemiologic and economic analyses and conduct needed health services research.