One important characteristic of public health innovation is that a developed process, policy, product, or program lends itself to adaptation/adoption, replication, and diffusion. As the public health landscape shifts around us, health departments are implementing innovative practices to help meet the needs of their communities, address the social determinants of health, and achieve a culture of health.With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and in collaboration with the Garrett County Health Department (GCHD), PHNCI has awarded innovation replication grants to five health departments to develop and implement the Universal Community Planning Tool (UCPT) in their own communities. The UCPT is an innovative digital collaboration platform that is revolutionizing the way communities develop their comprehensive health improvement plans. GCHD is helping guide awardees through the installation and implementation of the tool to test the utility of the UCPT in various settings, and to inform potential widespread use by the public health community. The five, accredited health department awardees are:
In this blog, we hear from each pilot site as they installed, built, launched, and oriented stakeholders to their unique UCPT.
PHNCI provided funding to five health departments that were competitively selected from a pool of applicants. We asked our pilot sites why they chose to apply for the opportunity to develop and implement a localized version of the UCPT in their communities:
The UCPT framework is an open-source, web-based online platform built on WordPress. Whether you are tech savvy or tech-averse, installing the UCPT only takes about 20 minutes to complete, and there are guidance documents to help you through the installation process. We asked our pilot sites how the installation process went for them:
The UCPT is comprised of features that are customizable to tailor the functionality and look of the tool. Out of the box, the UCPT includes: (1) a community forum for individuals to openly discuss issues of concern or interest and suggest community solutions; (2) the ability to create discussion groups to stimulate and mobilize conversations from the community forum and actualize strategies for community improvement; and (3) collect hyperlocal data that can be used to measure specific strategies. We asked our pilot sites what features of the UCPT were important for them to build out to meet the needs of their communities:
Whether through a soft launch or an active and robust marketing campaign, the UCPT is only successful when communities are aware of its existence and actively participate. We asked our pilot sites how they marketed and launched their UCPT to their public:
In addition to making communities aware of its existence, the UCPT needs to be used by the public to be successful. We asked our pilot sites how they oriented both partners and community members to begin to use their UCPT:
PHNCI and GCHD are in the process of assessing the replication process, including the utility of the tools developed to support replication, fidelity of the model, early process outcomes, and other generalizable lessons learned regarding replication of innovations in public health. Once the pilots are complete and the replication process is documented, along with implementation tools and resources, PHNCI and GCHD will nationally launch the UCPT for all health departments and communities to adopt and implement. Stay tuned for additional details in the coming months!Q&A conducted, edited, and condensed by Travis Parker Lee, Program Specialist. PHNCI thanks the following people for their contributions to this blog post: