The mission of public health is to reduce the leading causes of preventable death and disability, with a special emphasis on under-served populations and health disparities. Local and state health departments need to adapt and evolve if governmental public health is to address emerging health demands.

Local health departments have long recognized the need to more effectively integrate and exchange data with their community partners and payers. However, given the wide-range of services public health departments deliver (in and outside of clinical settings), many processes still remain on paper … even for the best intentioned.

For Title-X funded family planning grantees, 2017 (which is not as far off as it seems) will be an exciting step toward increased interoperability. In 2017, the Office of Population Affairs’ (OPA) aims to launch FPAR 2.0, a new data repository and performance reporting system directly interfacing with and connecting to select electronic health records, including those provided by Netsmart. Roughly 50 percent of Netsmart public health clients are Title-X-funded family planning grantees. (Learn more about our role as a form filler.)

FPAR is the only required uniform reporting for family planning service delivery projects that receive Federal grant support under Section 1001 of Title X. Currently, data is collected annually on family planning clients, aggregated at the level of the Title X grantee, and reported through a web-based FPAR instrument hosted on an electronic system (the FPAR Data System). A data file of all grantee data is established.  This aggregate data file then becomes the basis for creating the regional and overall national FPAR annual reports.

It has been almost 10 years since the last revision to the FPAR. FPAR 2.0 will save health departments time as well as enable stronger data aggregation and analysis. One of the most exciting forms of analysis that will be enhanced is Encounter Level data. This level of detail has not been available previously, and will have a direct impact on actionable intelligence gained from FPAR 2.0. Encounter Level data allows for segmentation and identification of areas for improvement as well as bright spots in performance. It’s the difference between navigating from Florida to California with a map that shows only point A and point B, and navigating with comprehensive roadmap.

The public health landscape is evolving. More and more local health departments are adopting EHRs and proof points are emerging. Utilizing an EHR system to serve public health needs provides the possibility of enormous advances for public health practice and policy. It also benefits consumers, healthcare institutions and individual providers with which local health departments regularly interface.

FPAR 2.0 is one small but revolutionary step. We’re proud to be a part of it.