The Howard County Local Health Improvement Coalition (LHIC) was formed in 2012 in response to a mandate by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH). DHMH provides a framework for health improvement called SHIP (State Health Improvement Process). SHIP includes 39 measures of population health in five focus areas – Healthy Beginnings, Healthy Living, Healthy Communities, Access to Health Care, and Quality Preventive Care. The LHIC’s objective is to use local health data to set priorities and work toward population health improvement, with a focus on reducing health disparities among Howard County residents.

Currently, the 2015-2017 Local Health Improvement Action Plan has identified four priority areas of focus for the Howard County LHIC and formed work groups for each area. Priorities include:

  1. Access to Care: Increase access to health care among Howard County residents.
  2. Behavioral Health: Expand access to behavioral health resources and reduce behavioral health emergencies in Howard County.
  3. Healthy Aging: This newly formed Work Group is currently working to identify Action Plan Goals. 
  4. Healthy Weight: Ensure Howard County residents achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Priorities are chosen with consideration of the following criteria:

  • High levels of disparities related to the health outcome.
  • Improving the issue would affect large populations. 
  • Addressing the priority can improve a number of different health outcomes. 
  • There is a high cost and longā€term impact of not addressing the issue. 
  • Organizations in the LHIC can make change happen related to the priority. 
  • Results can be quantified.