One Wheel, Many Drivers: An Organizational Approach to Improving Staff Knowledge and Internal Communications for the Austin/Travis County HHSD


Impact Statement: 
An urban local health department found that 35% of mid-level staff did not know who to contact for questions about new department programs and services. This workforce development QI project led to development of a common resource packet that enabled staff to respond more quickly and effectively to community members’ requests for information.

After engaging in brainstorming and prioritization exercises based on focus areas for improvement from the beta accreditation process, the Austin/Travis County HHSD’s Continuous Quality Improvement and Public Health Accreditation Committee identified that it is essential to improve communication and collaboration throughout the department. The improvement theory was that if Austin/Travis County HHSD managers and supervisors increased their knowledge of the organizational structure of the health department and each area or unit’s roles and responsibilities, then they will be able to find the information they need and communicate with each other more readily. Although the allotted time for the QI intervention was a challenge, results revealed a 6% increase of managers and supervisors reporting that they knew whom to contact if they had questions about new department information and an 11% increase reporting that they knew what procedure to follow when distributing pertinent information. In addition, there was a 20% increase reporting the need for a centralized information source. The QI project enabled development of a Departmental Resource Packet, a living and working document that includes information and point-of-contact information for internal and external services provided throughout HHSD. Although the aim statement of a 25% increase of managers and supervisors reporting they knew whom to contact when questions about new Austin/Travis County HHSD information arose was not attained, the QI team is continuing to assess, update, and educate while managers and supervisors thoroughly review and apply the knowledge gained from the Resource Packet. The Resource Packet motivates staff to learn more about services provided throughout the department, to collaborate with each other, to maximize resources, and to have a resource for which to refer when assistance is needed to help staff and the community. HHSD is committed to updating and continuously improving its Resource Packet to inform staff and to support greater and more effective internal communication.

Organization that conducted the QI initiative: 
Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department

Viswanathan, V. Public Health Quality Improvement Exchange. One Wheel, Many Drivers: An Organizational Approach to Improving Staff Knowledge and Internal Communications for the Austin/Travis County HHSD. Wed, 12/26/2012 - 16:53. Available at Accessed April 14, 2024.

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Submitted by ATCHHSD Strateg... on

Great work! Since it's been out for three editions, has there been an increase since the 6% among managers and supervisors knowing who the responsible parties to contact for questions on new department resources and public health information. Has it reached the intended aim of 90%?

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