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From the President: Emerging Issues

 Epidemiology and Evaluation: Celebrating One Year

By The AMCHP Epidemiology and Evaluation Team

(By Jennifer Farfalla, Krista Granger, Alexandra Harris, and Caroline Stampfel)

A Look Back

Support for MCH Epidemiology at AMCHP expands: Epidemiology and Evaluation Team celebrates one year!

As we reflect back on 2015, we also celebrate a milestone. In November of 2015, Epidemiology and Evaluation completed its first year as a team at AMCHP. In that year, we also received funding for a new five-year cooperative agreement from CDC, "Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology: National and State Coalition Building to Improve Outcomes."  This funding will allow us to continue our support of MCH epidemiology at the state level. The new funding started in September of 2015 and includes four strategies: (1) Identify and strengthen key MCH partnerships; (2) Train staff at state local levels to promote the capability of state and local health departments to conduct MCH epi and surveillance; (3) Create peer exchange opportunities to present research, share experiences, enhance knowledge, and discuss emerging MCH topics; and (4) Develop and disseminate clinical guidelines and programmatic recommendations. More information on the exciting new initiatives from this funding is included in our Looking Ahead section.

In addition to new funding, we added a new team member! Alexandra Harris, a recent graduate of Xavier University, joined AMCHP on December 9, 2015 as the Program Associate for Epidemiology and Evaluation.  Along with adding a new team member, Epidemiology and Evaluation had many project successes to celebrate in 2015; a few of these are included below. 

Highlights of two cohorts of life course Technical Assistance: In February 2015, 8 states (Alaska, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, and Wyoming) completed the first round of Life Course Indicators Intensive Technical Assistance. The project, supported with funds from the W.K. Kellogg foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offered technical assistance to states calculating a subset of AMCHP's life course indicators and creating a communications product from their data. In February 2016, 4 states (Georgia, Mississippi, Minnesota, and New Mexico) will complete the second round of Life Course Indicators Intensive Technical Assistance. During the project, states attended learning events on calculating complex life course indicators, communicating health disparities, and creating communications products such as infographics. Products created in the first round include a life course section in the Title V Needs Assessment, an interactive adolescent health resource for school nurses, a presentation on concentrated disadvantage and more. States in the second round are in the process of creating products such as infographics, story maps, indicator reports, and more. One of the most successful aspects of the life course project was the virtual and in-person peer sharing between participants.

Return on Investment Analytic Action Learning Collaborative Highlights: Through support from the W.K. Kellogg foundation, AMCHP led the second cohort of the Return on Investment Analytic Action Learning Collaborative (ROI Analytic ALC) from July 2015 - January 2016. This second cohort is focused on the economic analysis of programs related to child and adolescent health, and included 5 state teams (Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and North Carolina). Through consultation with expert health economists and communications experts, each team completed an ROI analysis of their selected program and developed a communication product that messages their results to an intended audience. Upon completion of the ROI Analytic ALC second cohort, AMCHP will share state team examples, best practices, and lessons learned from both cohorts regarding the development, implementation, and completion of economic analyses for MCH Programs.

 Another Successful Harvard/CDC Program Evaluation Practicum: For the second year in a row, AMCHP staff worked in partnership with CDC's Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology Program in the Division of Reproductive Health and the Harvard School of Public Health to conduct a unique 3 week Winter Session course each January. The Program Evaluation Practicum provides an opportunity for students and state Maternal and Child Health program staff to learn essential program evaluation methods and collaborate in the development of a program evaluation plan specific to the participating MCH programs. Upon completion of the course, student participants develop a comprehensive evaluation plan that can be later utilized to conduct an evaluation of the participating MCH program.

Partnership with CSTE: Our second year of partnership with the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) was marked by successful collaboration on the MCH Symposium at the CSTE Annual Conference in June. The symposium, "Unleashing the Potential of Clinical Performance Measures for Maternal and Child Health," featured expert panel speakers from CMS, CDC, and University of South Florida and state presenters from Florida, Iowa, South Carolina, and Washington. AMCHP sponsored the attendance of eight state Title V staff and provided a high capacity (8GB) flash drive to each symposium participant that included AMCHP and CSTE materials, including the symposium slide presentations, the three fact sheets created through this project (QI for Epidemiologists, Economic Analysis of LARC Programs, and the Roadmap of Economic Analysis Resources), as well as AMCHP Life Course Indicators, the AMCHP Health for Every Mother Guide and the CSTE Trends in MCH Epidemiology Capacity fact sheet.

Infographics: A small group of AMCHP staff meet monthly to design effective AMCHP infographics. Starting in the May/June issue of Pulse, Data and Trends featured AMCHP-designed Infographics on the well woman visit, adverse family experiencesperinatal and infant health, and adolescent e-cigarette  use. AMCHP has also featured infographics from AMCHP members monthly in Member Briefs. AMCHP has created a project-specific infographic highlighting the work accomplished through the AMCHP Every Mother Initiative, and will continue to create infographics for project reports, for dissemination at events or meetings, or to promote certain initiatives to AMCHP members

Looking Ahead

The Epidemiology and Evaluation team is moving forward with several key initiatives this year. Some are brand new, while others represent enhancements of long running AMCHP activities.

MCH Epi Mentorship: AMCHP's Epidemiology and Evaluation team recently launched a new opportunity for MCH epidemiologists who want to network with their colleagues, receive mentorship from seasoned Epi professionals, and hone leadership skills that will help them succeed in the workforce. This MCH Epi Peer to Peer Cohort is part of the broader Leadership Lab opportunity that allows Title V staff from across the workforce (Family Leaders, new Title V and MCH Directors, CYSHCN Directors, Next Generation MCH Leaders (age 45 or less), and MCH / Title V Epidemiologists) to learn from each other. We look forward to working with the MCH Epi Cohort from December 2015 through September 2016 to enhance their development as MCH leaders.

Epi Support Services: In 2016, AMCHP will launch a new way to get connected with MCH epi TA, through Epi Support Services.  Through a variety of mechanisms in the past, AMCHP Epidemiology and Evaluation Team members have fielded requests for support from AMCHP members, MCH epis, and others in the field on topics such as data linkage, life course indicator analysis, survey data analysis, SAS code, and creation of data presentations. Through Epi Support Services, AMCHP members, MCH epis, and others in the field will be able to request epi/data TA through an easy-to-use online portal. Support may be provided in the form of direct TA or the connection to an expert in the field and will occur via phone, email or on-site TA.

Partnership with NAPHSIS: We are looking forward to a new partnership with the National Association for Public Health and Statistics Information Systems (NAPHSIS), the membership association representing state vital records and public health statistics offices in the United States. Our new partnership will harness the power of our two memberships to provide insight and feedback to our national partners on key data issues.

Enhancement of training activities:  AMCHP has provided on-site skills-building training for over 15 years on a variety of topics. We recognize the value of bringing people together to learn, and we will continue our partnership with CDC, CityMatCH, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau to bring you hands-on, relevant training with excellent subject matter experts. In the coming year, we are planning to bring training, peer learning, and technical assistance to you through diverse virtual methods in addition to in-person gatherings. Look for topics such as communicating data and analysis of Medicaid and mechanisms such as virtual training modules and longer-term analytic action learning in the coming year.

New MCH Epi Column in Pulse: In addition to featuring highlights of relevant data displayed in infographics in Pulse and Member Briefs, the Epidemiology and Evaluation team will debut an MCH Epi column in the next issue of Pulse. The column will feature experiences and best practices of state MCH epi and data staff in an effort to highlight the great MCH epi work happening at state health departments.