The Initiative

Help us transform public health into a stronger system that offers every Missouri resident the opportunity for a healthier life.

The #HealthierMO grassroots initiative seeks to positively impact the health of Missouri residents by transforming our current public health system into a stronger, sustainable, culturally relevant and responsive system that can meet the challenges of our diverse communities. Phase one of this multi-phase initiative seeks to engage stakeholders from across the state in identifying what is working well and where we have opportunity for change. Stakeholders will work together to design evidence-informed strategies and develop an action plan. The initiative does not propose a quick fix, but rather advocates for long-term, system-wide change that will transform the future of public health in Missouri and offer every resident the opportunity for a healthier life.

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Graphic that depicts the 2018 updated foundational public health services model from the Public Health National Center for Innovations.

What is Public Health?

Primary care treats individuals after they become sick, but public health focuses on disease prevention for the entire community. Public health provides foundational services like communicable disease prevention and control, injury prevention, and environmental health.

Primary care, public health, and community partners can work together to address Missouri's health care needs. They can advocate for policy change, the use of evidence-based models, and outcome-driven programs and services. Together they can affect population health change that offers a healthier future for all Missouri residents.

Learn more about public health

Photo of a nurse giving a young girl an immunization.

To have a stronger, more sustainable public health system, it will take local agencies working collaboratively together in ways that we have not thought of before – sharing resources and funding streams so that we all have a strong agency to provide services in our communities.

Michelle Morris, Administrator, Polk County Health Center, Bolivar, MO

Photo of a teen-age girl visiting with her school counselor.

Current Situation

  • Missouri has a complex public health system, with 114 autonomous local public health agencies, a state health department, academic institutions, and multiple professional organizations
  • Missouri has great diversity in access to care, health insurance status, food environments, and opportunities for physical exercise
  • Missouri ranks second-to-last in the nation in state general revenue budgeted for public health services, spending only $5.88 per person each year1
  • Missouri spends nearly $7,000 per person in health care costs each year, exceeding more than half of the other states' spending2
  • Missouri ranks in the lowest 10 states in the nation in health indicators like adult smoking, violent crime, cancer deaths, cardiovascular deaths, and child and adolescent immunizations5
Graphic depicting the return on investment for public health dollars.

Opportunities to Improve

  • In a recent survey public health leaders in Missouri agreed that now is the time to move forward with improving the public health system
  • Designing a system that connects health and social services to address gaps and connect patients with programs that meet their needs could result in significant financial savings within 10 years
  • Every $1 of funding invested in proven, evidence-based community prevention programs to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and reduce tobacco use leads up to a $5.60 return3
  • Every $1 of funding invested in substance abuse prevention achieves up to a $34 return4
Photo of McDonald County Health Department staff showing a young family how to safely install a car seat for their child.

We have gaps in funding, lack a consistent definition of public health, and need universal messaging about the value of public health. We also need training and workforce development, along with public education, if we want to have a public health system that has the ability to adapt to changing community health needs and improve the health of all Missourians.

Paige Behm, Administrator, McDonald County Health Department, Pineville, MO

Image of facilitator leading group discussion at Convening Session

Stakeholder Convening Session

The #HealthierMO initiative gathered more than 120 public health stakeholders in Columbia, MO on March 1, 2018 to seek input on the structure and process for moving the initiative forward. The facilitated session included table discussions, polls, surveys, group discussions and other activities focused around reaching consensus on the process for forming an Advisory Council and identifying the top public health issues the Advisory Council should address.

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Your Stories

Bootheel Boldly Embraces EHR

Fourteen local public health agencies in southeast Missouri embark on a bold transition from paper charting to electronic medical records. The move marks an effort to modernize and streamline public health processes for greater efficiency, improved accuracy and cost savings. Participants also hope the effort will also lead to opportunities for increased revenue for local public health agencies that operate on severely limited budgets.

Read the story

Initiative Updates

Keeping you informed and engaged in the #HealthierMO initiative to transform the future of public health.

Our interactive timeline below highlights initiative milestones reached to date. Swipe or use the arrows to navigate between milestones.

  • What's New

    Phase II launches February 2019, thanks to additional funding from Missouri Foundation for Health and Health Forward Foundation.

    Hundreds of public health system stakeholders from across Missouri shared ideas about system transformation during Phase I of the initiative. Your voice matters! View the video.

    Missouri faces a serious workforce retention challenge as many masters of public health graduates move out of state and away from governmental public health. Review the background and results of a 2017 study conducted by the Missouri Public Health Association.

  • Background

    Early work on the initiative began in 2014 with surveys of 360 people and key informant interviews that informed the Phase I funding proposal.

    Missouri's public health system funding structure is diverse and complex, with federal, state and local funding ranging widely based on the county and its organizational structure.

  • E-Learning Module for Students

    Learn about Missouri's complex public health system and the urgent need for transformation in this free online e-learning module. The module includes pre- and post-tests, knowledge checks and a certificate of completion.

    Launch the module

  • E-Learning Module for Public Health Workers and Community Partners

    This free tool helps public health workers and their community partners better understand Missouri's complex public health system and the urgent need for transformation. Includes certificate of completion.

    Launch the module

  • #HealthierMO Today

    #HealthierMO Today—February 2019

    #HealthierMO Today—January 2019

    #HealthierMO Today—December 2018

    More

  • Meeting Schedule

    2/27/19 Project Operations Committee

    2/28/19 Professional Organizations

    3/14/19 Communications Committee

    3/19/19 Advocacy Workgroup

    3/26/19 Collaboration Workgroup
  • Advisory Council

    The 35-member Advisory Council agreed at its June 14, 2018 meeting that the top priority for the initiative moving forward should be to identify a set of foundational public health services that every Missouri resident should be able to access. The Council's recommendation informed the initiative's Phase II funding proposal. The Council was selected April 27, 2018, based on nominations and recommendations from stakeholders across Missouri.

  • Partners and Supporters

    Join a growing group of individuals and organizations who are committed to work together to build a #HealthierMO. Add your name to our Partners and Supporters map.

    Email your name and the city you live or work in to be listed as an individual Supporter. Email your organization name and business address to list your agency as a Partner.

  • Professional Organizations

    Representatives from Missouri's Professional Organizations focused on public health continue to explore the best pathway to alignment and are working hard to achieve 10 goals they set in August 2018 around their four mission areas: advocacy, collaboration, communication and workforce development.

  • Executive Committee

    The Executive Committee is made up of representatives from Missouri's state and local public health agencies and statewide professional organizations focused on public health. The Executive Committee assumed leadership of the initiative from the Steering Committee on July 11, 2018.

Engage

Take an active role in helping transform Missouri's public health system! Whatever your skills, expertise, interest or time, choose your role. Join the #HealthierMO grassroots initiative. Together we can build a stronger public health system that offers every Missouri resident the opportunity for a healthier life.

Subscribe to our regular email update, #HealthierMO Today, to stay current on initiative progress.

Connect with us on social media.

Our Staff

Image of Casey Parnell Casey Parnell, MPH, MPA
Project Manager

Casey says her passion for policy and systems-level change led her to get involved with the initiative. She describes herself as an enthusiastic promoter of public health and says the optimistic and innovative nature of this initiative is exciting and inspiring. Parnell shares that her experience working with passionate and tireless public health officials and community volunteers has convinced her that Missouri can be a leader in public health.

 

Image of Jaci McReynolds Jaci McReynolds, MHA
Communications Coordinator

Jaci says she fell in love with public health when she entered the field in 2002. She has worked with local public health departments across the state, and says passionate staff work tirelessly to provide vital public health services in their communities. She believes the #HealthierMO initiative will empower public health stakeholders to address challenges and make Missouri a healthier place to live.

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