My name is Dr. Hal King, and I own the company, Public Health Innovations (PHI). On my first job at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1990, as a new U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Officer, I was given a book entitled “Plagues and Politics: The Story of the United States Public Health Service” during my commission. At first glimpse, I thought these two words, “Plagues and Politics” didn’t belong together, simply because the practice of public health should go beyond politics. However, after a few busy years investigating outbreaks of infectious diseases across the United States (and of course I read the book), I came to realize that effective public health did indeed involve politics, but not the kind I first envisioned. You see, the word politics includes the definition “the practice and theory of influencing other people”. Therefore in order to maximize the benefits of innovation in the sciences of public health, we do indeed need to influence other people.
Public Health Innovations LLC is a new business-to-business ideation and consulting company. We are in the business of innovation for public health intervention to prevent diseases that occur in schools/daycare, healthcare environments (including long-term care facilities), and from food service and food manufacturing facilities. Because the most effective interventions in public health require multiple interactions across many organizations to have the greatest impact, we created The Lab.
The Lab is a new social media platform and the first of its kind place to facilitate and influence interactions between students of public health and the public health professionals in academia, healthcare, government (FDA, CDC, USDA, state public health organizations) and the products/services industry; all who practice and implement public health solutions to prevent illness and disease across the United States. These are the current and future professionals that improve the health of people and communities, and their knowledge and continual investigation for new knowledge are the greatest strength of new public health innovation.
The Lab will facilitate and influence relationships and new interactions across these groups to advance the public health and speed up innovation. This platform will also foster knowledge and thought leadership for all participants, and provide participants with new ideas and potential collaborations to further work toward new public health innovations.
A key part of The Lab’s value to all participants will be the interaction between students and public health professionals in government, academia, and business as we facilitate the subject matter focus based on public health needs, students interest, and new evolving technologies to meet new public health challenges. The Lab will support a traditional Blog each month focused on the interest of participants and by participants to foster this interaction. We will also facilitate the conversations via Twitter and Chat between participants where we need to go deeper on causation theory and build potential collaborations to develop new intervention strategies by participants.
We are asking the industry to sponsor The Lab’s mission in return for participation to ensure they will be committed via their technology experts to the process and focus of the platform. We will carefully ensure no “selling” is allowed, but we will foster the movement of ideas to market (as CDC and academia do with technology transfer to industry for the improvement of public health).
Thomas Friedman, MD, MPH (Director of the CDC) has proposed that in order to have the most effective public health program implementation, organizations must address six key areas; starting with (1), innovation, (2), an evidence-based technical package (defined as a selected group of scientifically validated related interventions), (3), effective management, (4), partnerships, (5), communications, and (6), political commitment. Innovation is first (and Dr. Friedman places innovation inside the hub of a wheel with the other components making up the spokes and wheel) because all public health implementation must start with and then include innovations throughout implementation to maximize an intervention strategy that deals with populations of people (T. R. Frieden, 2014. Six Components Necessary for Effective Public Health Program Implementation American Journal of Public Health, January 2014, Vol. 104, No. 1). In other words, ideas and new tools from innovation are important, but collaboration and use of all the components of the science of public health are required to reduce the burden of illness and disease.
It is our desire that The Lab will advance public health improvements via new technical conversations, expanded cross-functional and cross-organizational communications, and new partnerships that enhance the innovations necessary to prevent illness and disease.