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Combining the Benefits of Decision Science and Financial Analysis in Public Health Management: A County-Specific Budgeting and Planning Model

Fos, Peter J. PhD, MPH; Miller, Danny L. CPA, MBA; Amy, Brian W. MD, MHA, MPH; Zuniga, Miguel A. MD, DrPH

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: September-October 2004 - Volume 10 - Issue 5 - p 406–412

State public health agencies are charged with providing and overseeing the management of basic public health services on a population-wide basis. These activities have a re-emphasized focus as a result of the events of September 11, 2001, the subsequent anthrax events, and the continuing importance placed on bioterrorism preparedness, West Nile virus, and emerging infectious diseases (eg, monkeypox, SARS). This has added to the tension that exists in budgeting and planning, given the diverse constituencies that are served in each state. State health agencies must be prepared to allocate finite resources in a more formal manner to be able to provide basic public health services on a routine basis, as well as during outbreaks. This article describes the use of an analytical approach to assist financial analysis that is used for budgeting and planning in a state health agency. The combined benefits of decision science and financial analysis are needed to adequately and appropriately plan and budget to meet the diverse needs of the populations within a state. Health and financial indicators are incorporated into a decision model, based on multicriteria decision theory, that has been employed to acquire information about counties and public health programs areas within a county, that reflect the impact of planning and budgeting efforts. This information can be used to allocate resources, to distribute funds for health care services, and to guide public health finance policy formulation and implementation.

This article describes the use of decision sciences to assist in the budgeting and planning process and also discusses the benefits to state health agencies in using the combined aspects of decision science and public health finance.

Professor and Dean, College of Health, The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg. (Fos)

Deputy Director, Mississippi State Department of Health, Jackson. (Miller)

State Health Officer, Mississippi State Department of Health, Jackson. (Amy)

Assistant Professor, Texas A&M University Health Sciences Center, School of Rural Public Health, College Station. (Zuniga)

Corresponding author: Peter J. Fos, PhD, MPH, The University of Southern Mississippi, College of Health, 118 College Drive, #10075, Hattiesburg, MS 39406-0001 (e-mail:

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.