Learning Objectives: Describe the types and functions of various computerized program tracking/evaluation systems used by states and identify major issues involved with their development, implementation and maintenance.
Abstract: Problem Information technology advances are driving the development of comprehensive program monitoring and evaluation database systems in public health. These systems are proliferating within tobacco control, where increased funding has enabled states to implement comprehensive prevention initiatives at the local level. Informal discussions with system developers and users indicate that their complexity, content and sophistication vary widely.
Methods This presentation will report the qualitative results of a mail survey administered to fifty state health departments and several health foundations. Participants surveyed are responsible for program monitoring, evaluation and/or contract management between funding agencies and local agencies executing public health programs. Follow-up phone interviews with approximately 10 respondents will provide texture to the data.
Results Qualitative information summaries will highlight: 1) overviews of states using and planning to develop program monitoring/information management systems, 2) the type, purposes and functions of these systems, 3) the nature of information collected, 4) the intended and actual uses of the information collected, 5) system development, implementation, and maintenance issues, 6) customer satisfaction, 7) development and maintenance costs, 8) training and technical assistance issues, and 9) lessons learned.
Discussion Using database systems for program monitoring, contract management and evaluation is relatively new and the learning curve associated with system design, implementation and management is steep and often costly. Since this information is not yet available in published literature, nor is it widely known among personnel who currently administer data collection systems in states and agencies, the presentation should be valuable and timely to public health agencies.
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