Using Quality Improvement to Increase Community Connections Through Digital Communications


Impact Statement: 
The public health community has lagged in using digital communications to make its presence and services delivered known to the general public. Gwinnett, Newton, and Rockdale County Health Departments found that creating a better experience and better information for website visitors was better than just pushing themselves out via social media. This QI project showed that better web design that results in easier navigation can optimize the use of a web site.

The project focused on digital communications, specifically Facebook and Twitter. Gwinnett, Newton, and Rockdale County Health Departments (GNR Health) looked to optimize a new website and social media presence to increase awareness and knowledge about the health department and its services, promote healthy behaviors, create a dialogue between the community and the health department, and increase service use.

Aim statement: By November 30, 2012, GNR Health aims to increase the number of monthly unique visitors to the website to 10,000, register 200 Facebook followers, and register 200 Twitter followers.

The implementation of the improvement involved creating several small, rapid-cycle quality improvement (QI) projects. During the implementation, the focus shifted from pushing the website via social media to creating a better experience and better information for website visitors.

Although the numbers in the aim statement were not realized, several of the small QI projects had dramatic results. A review of the attached tracking chart/immunizations page and accompanying run chart shows the value of creating local content and keeping website visitors on the site instead of linking to an external source.

Another benefit appears on the tracking chart/environmental health (EH) stats page. One of the goals of the EH section redesign QI project was to make certain pages more easily located. Before the modifications, the restaurant page hits (inspections) were not as easy to find, causing visitors to search other pages. The redesign redirected these visitors, increasing the number of visitors going directly to the inspections page.

The benefits of applying QI to every project—large or small—will be felt throughout all communications projects going forward. The use of the tools and knowledge gained over the course of the initiative will impact future communications programs, eventually affecting every area of the organization.

Organization that conducted the QI initiative: 
Gwinnett, Newton, and Rockdale County Health Departments

Russell, C. Public Health Quality Improvement Exchange. Using Quality Improvement to Increase Community Connections Through Digital Communications. Mon, 03/25/2013 - 17:56. Available at Accessed July 25, 2024.

Submission Status: 
3 users have voted.


Submitted by Lisa Forsch on

As my background is in marketing, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your QI project. What system do you use to monitor the data and trends of your digital efforts? Have you done any user testing with your site to see how your population may respond to the placement of finding your materials? It could be beneficial to run a small "focus group" for this effort. Also, I was not familiar with and will be researching this in more detail to determine how I may use it in our digital communication efforts. Thank you for sharing!

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Submitted by kjshields on

Thanks, Lisa! We enjoyed working on the project. We use Google Analytics to monitor our web site data/trends. Facebook has some analytics, and for Twitter we track follows and look at retweets and other activity.

We did receive solicited input for our emergency preparedness messaging, as well as our Environmental Health pages redesign. We have not done community/user testing on our website - that's a great idea.

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Submitted by Hoffchris@co.ka... on

Very interesting project! Have you set up dashboards within Google Analytics to track your indicators? We also use Analytics but haven't customized it for specific projects. Any good resources to learn about how to best use the data available in Analytics?

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Submitted by mfolkerth on

Thanks for sharing your project. I agree that public health has been lacking in using social media outlets to the best our advantage for reaching clients and our targeted populations. We have been increasing our social media efforts recently and I think it has been great. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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4Sloan's picture
Submitted by 4Sloan on

Thanks so much for this submission. Our LHJ is exploring the uses of social media, including putting into place socially responsible guidelines BEFORE taking the full plunge. At the same time, our county web pages will be undergoing a complete revision in 2014. Your journey will help to guide our own.

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Submitted by margyrob on

I have shared your project with our communications staff.  We face a challenge in that our County maintains control of the web page and its design so we are not always able to easily make the changes we would like to make.  This project may help us show the potential impact of making improvements in the website. 

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Margy Robinson MPH
HIV Care Services Mgr.
Multnomah County Health Dept.
Portland, OR