Regionalization in Local Public Health Systems

Variation in Rationale, Implementation, and Impact on Public Health Preparedness

Published In: Public Health Reports, v. 123, no. 4, July-Aug. 2008, p. 441-449

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2008

by Michael A. Stoto

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Comparative case studies found that regionalization originated from a crisis or perceived need for a coordinated response, a need to build local public health capacity, or an effort to use federal preparedness funds more efficiently. Regions vary in terms of their congruence with regional structures for partner agencies, such as emergency management agencies, as well as hospital and health services markets and organizational structure. Some focus on building formal organizational relationships to coordinate and sometimes standardize preparedness and response activities or build regional capacity, while others focus on building informal professional networks. Whatever the approach, strong leadership and trust are required for effective planning, emergency response, and sustainability. This article suggests that regionalization improves emergency preparedness by allowing for more efficient use of resources and better coordination and demonstrated progress in terms of planning and coordination; regional capacity-building, training, and exercises; and development of professional networks.

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