State and local health survey leaders will benefit in a variety of ways from a formalized network; several already have through the informal relationships developed among a few “early adopter” state surveys which are sharing experiences and reporting on experiments and innovations. This may help projects in the planning phase dramatically cut development time by gaining guidance, technical resources and valuable lessons from states with more mature programs. Developing programs can also use examples of successful impact in other states to build support for their own projects.
The Network is responsive to the increasing demand for shared resources and knowledge for state and local survey health leaders. The annual 2-hour meeting facilitates time for an exchange of ideas and requests for information and feedback, as well as to accommodate a growing and increasingly diverse group of practitioners, furthering the common goal of improving population health data. Website forums will expand this ability for interactive communication and sharing.
Feedback from current participants indicates that projects affiliating with the Network will benefit from enhanced perceived legitimacy of their survey efforts as they build support and seek partners within their state, as well as provide a strong, united voice on issues concerning health data collection and funding among national groups. Additionally, they recognize that harmonized survey instruments provide the opportunity to collaborate on experimentation and innovation in survey methodology for such needs as new sampling frames to improve survey coverage, new methods to improve response rates, and item testing to enhance scientific measurement and comparability.
Researchers, state and local policy makers, program planners, analysts and advocates working in health care policy and programming will benefit from high quality, local-level data that is both responsive to state and local needs for data and facilitates comparisons with other localities across the country. Local level data is a must for local health agencies creating Health Improvement Plans, conducting assessments, evaluating programs and policies, and applying for funding. Based on the CHIS: Making an Impact study conducted at UCLA, we are also aware of many examples of local health care organizations and providers as well as community-based organizations that rely on local-level data for policy development, program planning and evaluation, and resource development and allocation.
These goals will be best achieved through active and engaged membership in the Network. Currently, Network membership is free and allows Members to participate in all activities including Work Groups, online forums and the Annual Meeting. Network staff is limited and activity will rely heavily on volunteers from among the membership.