The three most important topics for Chris Atchison, as Director of the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa, and Associate Dean at the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health, are patient-centered care, ensuring safety net, and integrating the public health laboratory into the larger health and university systems. “All of this is in the context of the Governor wanting Iowa to be the healthiest state in the nation and encouraging personal responsibility as a key element of any plan,” says Atchison.
Atchison’s work centers on his efforts to develop collaboration toward achieving key objectives for Iowa’s health system. He believes that patient-centered care is fundamental toward improving care and outcomes, but says, “it will not occur if the existing health organizations merely change their internal processes. There must be outreach to and collaboration with partners based on thoughtful consideration of what is necessary to provide access to comprehensive services to all enrolled.”
Atchison uses the NASHP model to bring all of the right people together to talk about health issues from a state policy perspective. One example of this he highlights is “our Rebalancing Health Care in the Heartland series where we have identified best practices in the state and around the country, and have brought in individuals who can address these critical issues and share their perspectives with us.”
Atchison’s long-time engagement with NASHP has helped generate success for his work in the state. “The state focus of NASHP’s research and publications provides an objective resource for immediate dialog with policymakers and inclusion of language into bill drafts and administrative law.” A recent example is the new Iowa Health and Wellness Plan. NASHP provided the Iowa Medicaid/Safety Net team (a part of NASHP’s National Organizations of State and Local Officials Cooperative Agreement), technical assistance to help figure out how to improve safety net participation in the ACA. The technical assistance provided Iowa stakeholders insight on language to pilot community-based care coordination teams for draft legislation. In June, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad signed the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan into law.
This recent legislation is just one way that NASHP really has served in a way that contributes to Iowa. “The information and expertise of NASHP members and staff has been used to move discussions in Iowa ahead.” Atchison will speak at NASHP’s 26th Annual State Health Policy Conference on a session about New Data Sources to Improve Population Health.
To learn more about Atchison and his work, visit the Iowa Department of Public Health Medical Home System Advisory Council and the Iowa Collaborative Safety Net Provider Network, Rebalancing Health Care in the Heartland and the State Hygienic Laboratory at the University of Iowa.