Health Policy Analysis: Definition & Approach

Instructor: Maya Shapland

Maya has worked in the clinical, education, and management sections of healthcare for over 25 years and holds bachelor's degree in Speech and associate degree in Nursing.

Health policy analysis is the subject of this lesson and the discussion is around the elements of the analysis. Doing a thorough investigation of the data before planning can help streamline policy development.

Health Policy Analysis

Brent is a nurse using his analytics skills to embark on a journey of change for his state. Health policy is being developed for communities responding to disasters. Health policy is the foundational structure of actions for healthcare in the U.S. and globally. Whether in local communities, state governments, national or international areas, health policy can address issues and provide guidance and sometimes law for their citizens.

A thorough analysis of current information must be done before health policy can be decided on. This is important to do before a plan is to be formed and implementation is activated and evaluated. Data from the past and present can help Brent's project team see things more clearly. Everyone on the team brings their perspective to the table and the data helps sort out the issues to be addressed. In the rapidly changing world of health policy, there are numerous players called stakeholders who are invested in the issues and the process being developed.

Brent's stakeholders look like this:

  • Emergency services representatives at the state level
  • Public health officials
  • Department of Health and Human Services officials
  • Healthcare organizations and emergency department leadership
  • Legal representation
  • Law enforcement
  • Fire and rescue leadership
  • Centers for Disease Control resources

Brent's first order of business is to help the team agree on the issues surrounding disaster response and how this currently meets the population's needs. This is called a gap analysis. Gap analysis helps to identify what is missing between desired performance and what is actually being done.

Analysis is a diligent examination of the evidence. This may include the following resources:

  • Governmental research and databases
  • Academic research and databases
  • Professional Associations
  • Consulting firms
  • Foundations based on the specialty
  • Think tanks
  • Stakeholder's internal data
  • Financial data including the project costs

Analytical Methods

Brent uses a simple method for keeping the focus for this diverse group; definition of the problem and alternative solutions based on the data received. This team has identified the first problem: the disaster response system needs to incorporate an early response team to assess the needs of a community and alert the proper authorities should local citizens have losses of infrastructure.

Analytic elements of the health policy
components health policy

Brent is adding other elements to his analysis including influencers and their impact on the policy. There are dynamic forces to consider, such as the political environment of his state. Having the support of those in political power will help fuel the success of the policy. He is meeting with the Lieutenant Governor at this time to listen to her concerns and evaluate any barriers to understanding the policy being considered. Guidance to those who are the lawmakers for this type of policy will also give support to the process.

The other alignments that need to occur are the professional organizations that are active in the state and make up the disaster relief teams at the present time. Gaining their cooperation and feedback are valuable tools for the framework of this policy.

Brent determines who the policy is being written for and how to communicate the needed changes to the audience actually using the policy. For example, Leadership and staff at all of the state's counties will be using this disaster policy as well as government and political entities and healthcare facilities statewide. Knowing who the audience is and how to reach them is a critical key to success. Statewide health policies will usually go through the offices of public health after they become law.

Other key elements to review before planning include:

Analyze the impact of the policy on those carrying it out and those being served by it. Brent noted that the formation of an early response team could require training and a notification system in place prior to implementation. In the past, each county could report their status online. In an urgent situation, a faster form of communication for assistance would be needed.

Geographical and social considerations must be considered in the analysis. Brent's team noted that the weather in the mountainous regions, flooding in low lying areas, cultures embedded, urban and rural differences would play important roles in the new policy for early response teams. Education, training, demonstration, and supplies have a price tag. Finding out resources for grants, volunteers, or other assets before the planning would help guide the process.


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