Beatty analyzes relationships between hospitals, health departments

Kate Beatty

JOHNSON CITY (March 11, 2015) – Dr. Kate Beatty, an assistant professor in East Tennessee State University’s College of Public Health, has co-authored an article recently published by the American Journal of Public Health.

The article looks at collaborations between local health departments and non-profit hospitals in the state of Missouri, where she was located at the time of the study, using content analysis of their community health needs assessments.

“We know that health care and public health play key and important roles in improving population health in communities. They are the two greatest providers of primary care and preventative care in communities,” Beatty said. “Unfortunately, there have been existing silos in communication and lack of coordination between local public health departments and hospitals.”

In the study, Beatty and three of her then-colleagues attempted to identify and describe the current levels of collaboration between local health departments and the non-profit hospitals in Missouri. They collected and performed content analysis on the community health needs assessments for approximately 80 percent of the non-profit hospitals in the state.

What they found was that hospitals that were part of larger health systems were collaborating less with the local health departments than smaller hospitals. This may be due to the fact, Beatty noted, that the hospitals not affiliated with larger health systems lacked the necessary resources and were more likely to rely on their local health department partners to help in conducting their community health assessments.

“It is important to continue to study the relationships between public health and health care over time,” said Beatty, who teaches in ETSU’s Department of Health Services Management and Policy. “Through the collaborations on assessing current levels of health, identifying priorities and coming up with strategies that engage all the stakeholders, we can achieve a greater population health improvement.”
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