For years, public health laboratories have sought to better articulate their value to stakeholders—such as state legislatures—beyond relaying test counts or response times. With continual loss of funding and increased demand for limited resources, public health laboratories need new tools to demonstrate their impact on disease prevention and control within the greater public health system.
Developing a Public Health Laboratory Impact Tool
APHL and a workgroup of member representatives partnered with a team of health economists from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. The APHL and CDC team focused initial efforts on measuring the impact of public health laboratory surveillance activities for a particular pathogen, Salmonella, which is frequently associated with foodborne illnesses and outbreaks.
The Public Health Laboratory Impact Tool for Salmonella was developed in 2020 as the first resource of its kind. Because the Tool can be modified to include unique, contextually specific elements, it allows public health laboratories to easily measure the change in Salmonella cases and associated costs due to surveillance activities on a local, state, regional or national scale.
APHL hopes to expand this innovative concept and continue the development of similar resources in other programmatic areas.
Using the Public Health Laboratory Impact Tool for Salmonella
Laboratories can complete the Public Health Laboratory Impact Tool in as little as thirty minutes via the CDC website, supported by an instructional manual.
Public Health Laboratories can enter jurisdiction-specific data or use the Tool's default values to produce a summary of health and economic impacts of laboratory-based surveillance and testing for Salmonella, as well as estimates of Salmonella cases, hospitalizations and medical costs averted.
The Tool’s outputs can be used for educating legislative staff, improving internal operations, or building relationships with clinical partners via the CDC example report template, manually copying select tables or exporting a full report. Along with spreadsheet-based tool outputs, the report can be quickly adapted to highlight select elements, allowing it to be tailored to a jurisdiction’s needs.
In addition to the CDC example report template, APHL has also developed a one-pager that can be used to educate state legislators, in addition to program partners. The one-pager is designed to be customizable, using the Tool's outputs and examples of individual outbreak stories and successes.
For more information about this initiative, please contact Lorelei Kurimski, director, Quality Systems and Analytics, or Shari Shea, director, Food Safety Programs.