About the Office of Performance Improvement

Jump To:

The Office of Performance (OPI) exists to build capacity and improve performance of Minnesota's state and local public health system.

Working across MDH and in partnership with local health departments, OPI provides leadership, technical assistance, consultation, planning support, and performance measurement to assure that public health activities are closely coordinated and non-duplicative between state and local governments; are of high quality; reflect strategic goals; and that all Minnesotans, regardless of where they live, have access to the basic services of public health.

Because local public health is an essential partner to MDH in carrying out public heath responsibilities, OPI provides support to and coordination with Minnesota's city, county, and multi-county community health boards. OPI also works to leverage private and non-profit sector resources for improving the public's health. The entire population of the state is served by this activity.

The Office of Performance Improvement:

  • coordinates agency level quality improvement efforts, and facilitates and coaches selected process improvement projects;
  • supports assessment, planning, and performance management;
  • oversees Minnesota's public health system and assures that statutory requirements are met;
  • provides technical assistance and consultation to the state's local public health boards (called community health boards, or CHBs) and the 2,800-member local public health workforce;
  • develops common policies for public health services between state and local governments so that those services are delivered in the most efficient way at the appropriate level;
  • provides leadership and management of agency preparation for accreditation and support for local preparation efforts; and
  • coordinates Minnesota's National Public Health Improvement Initiative and other cross-departmental projects.

Saint Paul-based staff carry out agency support activities and local support activities that are most efficiently done at a centralized level. Regional staff extend the reach of MDH via strong community connects, providing local support within a geographic area. This model has proven highly effective in maintaining a strong public health system statewide, and has been emulated by other states seeking to improve their public health systems.

Quality Improvement

Quality improvement (QI) methods and tools are resources for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of public health processes and activities. The Office of Performance Improvement:

  • coordinates and supports Lean and Kaizen events within MDH;
  • develops workforce skills and capacity for QI;
  • provides consultation on QI methods and tools;
  • engages leadership to build a culture of quality; and
  • develops policies, priorities, and action plans to assure continuous quality improvement in agency programs and infrastructure systems.

Performance Management

A performance management system integrates standards, measures, quality improvement, and progress reporting into an agency's core operations. The Office of Performance Improvement:

  • builds and implements performance management processes within MDH;
  • uses local performance measurement data to promote continuous quality improvement in Minnesota's local public health system; and
  • provides technical assistance, consultation, measurement, and accurate information to strengthen state and local public health performance management.

Oversight of Statewide Public Health System

OPI assures that the requirements of the Local Public Health Act (Minn. Stat. § 145A) are met, and that Minnesota maintains a statewide local public health system to fulfill public health responsibilities across the state. The Office of Performance Improvement:

  • assists community health boards and other local officials on local public health governance, administration, and statutory requirements;
  • analyzes and disseminates data about the local public health system to guide policy decisions (Visit: Minnesota Public Health Research to Action Network);
  • conducts annual accountability reviews to assure requirements of the Local Public Health Act (Minn. Stat. § 145A) are met; and
  • works with MDH programs to address issues impacting local public health.

Regional Consultation and Technical Assistance

Public health nurse consultants working out of MDH district offices offer consultation and technical assistance to local health departments in a defined geographic area in order to promote and maintain a strong public health infrastructure. The primary clientele are the managers and staff who provide public health services for a city, county, or tribal government. Consultation and coordination are also provided to regional groups, nursing school faculty, and other state agencies. The Office of Performance Improvement:

  • assists local health directors with issues such as organizational structure, board relationships, recruitment, hiring, and mentoring staff;
  • improves public health nursing practice through policy and workforce development, training, and collaboration with schools of nursing;
  • links local agency staff with sources of specialized expertise at MDH;
  • orients new local staff and elected officials; and
  • supports innovation and leadership development at the local level.

State Community Health Services Advisory Committee (SCHSAC)

As a part of the 1976 law creating the local public health system, the Minnesota Legislature created a coordination mechanism that continues to play an important role in the state and local public health partnership. The State Communtiy Health Services Advisory Committee, or SCHSAC (pronounced "shack"), consists of one representative from each of the state's community health boards, with local elected officials comprising the majority of members. SCHSAC provides a structured forum for the Commissioner of Health to communicate with local elected officials, and to jointly address key public health issues. SCHSAC also sponsors the annual Community Health Conference, which provides an opportunity for public health leadership and local elected officials to learn about emerging public health issues. The Office of Performance Improvement:

  • provides leadership and coordination for SCHSAC; and
  • provides professional staff support and policy analysis for SCHSAC workgroups formed to address issues of shared state and local concern.

Assessment and Planning

Assessment and planning are foundational strategies used in public health, and include using data to understand factors affecting the health of the population (assessment), developing and implementing plans to address those issues, and monitoring progress toward goals. The Office of Performance Improvement:

Accreditation Preparation

Voluntary national accreditation of state and local health departments began in 2011. The accreditation standards represent a national consensus on the core functions and essential services of state and local health departments and largely reflect current practice in Minnesota. Achieving the national standards will improve performance and ultimately support improved public health outcomes. It will also position MDH and local health departments to capitalize on anticipated national incentives for voluntary national accreditation. The Office of Performance Improvement:

  • manages the preparation process so that MDH applies for accreditation by 2013;
  • provides training to MDH and local public health staff so they become familiar with the standards and begin using them to improve performance; and
  • develops a documentation system and assists MDH programs in collecting needed documentation.

National Public Health Improvement Initiative

OPI coordinates Minnesota's National Public Health Improvement Initiative, which is funded through a cooperative agreement with the CDC. The cooperative agreement funds are used to support MDH performance improvement, grants administrative streamlining, and health information technology improvements to build capacity for health information exchange.