“I remember a seminar in which the speaker said that the hugest mistake public sector workers make is saying that we can’t measure what we do like for-profit corporations because we’re not for profit,” says Lucy Gee, Medical Quality Assurance Director at Florida’s Division of Medical Quality Assurance (MQA). “Can you imagine standing before the legislature trying to justify your program and saying we can’t really provide you with a measure of the value of what we do like the private sector can because we’re a “not-for-results” organization?”
We spoke to Lucy Gee about the must-have skills needed to both succeed as a public health professional, and also be effective in the public health role.
The success of a public health professional relies heavily on their ability to communicate, regardless of their position or rank. Professionals working in the public sector must know how to translate their efforts into terms that are understandable by elected leaders, voters, and private sector employers, believes Gee. “Government is misunderstood and maligned because we have failed to effectively communicate what we do into measurable value, return on investment, performance outputs, and results,” she says.
Another skill public health professionals should consider developing further, especially if they are interested in a career in MQA, is data analytics. “If I’m interviewing a management-level person to work in MQA and they possess knowledge of how to use process improvement tools, data driven-decision making, they already have a huge advantage over any other candidate,” says Gee.
The Division of MQA uses a wealth of data to develop strategies that impact their three key processes:
- License health care practitioners who meet minimum standards of competency established by the legislature.
- Enforce standards of practice governing the practice of the health care profession.
- Provide information to the public to help them make informed health care decisions (through annual reports: www.flhealthsource.com).
In the past two years, MQA has addressed Florida’s nation-wide reputation as being the epicenter of prescription drug abuse, diversion, and deaths. Together with law enforcement teams, MQA was able to cut down the number of pain clinics from 950 to 443 within a short two-year time span.
There is an exciting future in the role of analytics in public health and in the MQA division, especially when the evaluation of data can help form preemptive strategies for predicting workforce shortages and professional gaps. Gee believes that this kind of data analysis could be used effectively in proposing legislation to eliminate unnecessary barriers to licensure, as well as determine new areas for enforcement focus based on complaint data. In an effort to avoid future public health concerns, like the issues of prescription drug abuse, she wants to always be prepared. “I like to call this preemptive rather than reactive government,” she says.
A big thanks to Lucy Gee for her insights. Click here to learn more about the Division of Medical Quality Assurance.
If any OMP participant has questions or other suggestions, post them in the comments sections under this post (online) or email the program coordinator OMP@health.usf.edu.