There is no need to reinvent the wheel

Use technology to uncover best practice

Technology is beneficial to people designing programs to impact the health behaviors of their patient population base, says Jason L. Bittle, community health improvement coordinator at Hanover (PA) Hospital Wellness and Education Center.

"We can look at best practices in similar community settings, contact those key people who can help replicate the program, and facilitate best practices in our own communities," says Bittle.

He advises people in the field of community education to check out this web site from the Department of Health and Human Services: http://www. This web site provides community health status indicators so healthcare professionals in "peer counties" might be able to uncover reasons for rate differences in such matters as risk factors for premature death and share information about model programs. (Select state and county in the table on the left side of the page, then select the category you would like data on such as access to care or preventative services use.) In addition with the ability to do an Internet search, you can find complete narratives of programs and their contacts, then replicate in your own program without reinventing the wheel, says Bittle.

Best practices can be found with a computer-based literature search that uncovers the articles with the best research protocols. For good information look to the web sites and journals of accrediting agencies, says Bittle. For example, with a background in fitness, he often uses information disseminated by the American College of Sports Medicine. Technology can help with how clean the research is, says Bittle. For example, you can find who out paid for the study, whether the authors have a conflict of interest, if they are considered creditable in their fields, or if they have other work that can build upon the subject matter.