Throughout the 2016 fiscal year, the Center focused primarily on research that helped Central Pennsylvania organizations improve the health, wellbeing, and education of their communities. Our team played a particularly important role in ongoing efforts to improve the quality of healthcare and increase the accessibility of health services in the community. We also conducted several Pennsylvania statewide studies, on topics including the economy, politics, and the 2016 primary elections. In addition to conducting traditional opinion research, we continued to develop and enhance new methods of collecting, analyzing, and reporting community-level, socioeconomic, and health data. These included data mapping, online evaluation dashboards, and social media “listening.”

Significant work during the year included:

Community Health Needs Assessments. The Center worked with a number of organizations to conduct comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessments of Berks and Franklin Counties; these included the Berks County Community Foundation, Penn State Health St. Joseph, Reading Health System, United Way of Berks County, Healthy Franklin County, and Summit Health. The comprehensive assessments examined health issues of consequence in the communities, along with identifying healthcare needs, issues surrounding access to care, and avenues for improving community health.

Healthcare Consumer and Service Provider Research. We designed and carried out a number of service-related and consumer behavior surveys for Lancaster General Health, the Lehigh Valley Health Network, Wellspan Health, and Tandigm Health. These studies examined patient satisfaction, provider satisfaction, healthcare markets, and health-related behaviors, particularly regarding how consumers choose health providers and how healthcare cost drives consumer behavior.

Healthcare Improvement. The Center continued to be an integral part of several important healthcare improvement partnerships, including the Lancaster County Business Group on Health, LiveWell Lancaster County, the Lancaster Annual Health Summit, the Lancaster County Mental Health Collaborative, the Healthy York County Coalition, and the Healthy Adams County collaborative. With our help and expertise, these groups are making great strides toward improving the health of Central Pennsylvania residents.

Education Research and Program Evaluation. For many years, the Center has been the evaluator of record for the School District of Lancaster. During the year our team conducted evaluations for a number of their grant-funded programs, including Title I, the Workforce Investment Board, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and School Climate Transformation. We also carried out numerous studies for Franklin & Marshall College in areas such as student satisfaction, teaching evaluation methods, faculty development, grant-funded program assessment, and student health-related behaviors, social behaviors, and health status.

Lancaster County Collective Impact Research. The United Way of Lancaster County recently began a 10-year Collective Impact initiative designed to tackle underlying, systemic problems that lead to poverty. As the external evaluator for the initiative, we worked closely with the United Way to develop evaluation methods and tools for monitoring impact. Our team created and implemented a number of evaluation tools and reports, including community indicators data collection, logic models, an online collaborative assessment survey, an after-action report, network analysis, and an online evaluation dashboard.

Politics, Public Policy, and the Economy. During the first half of 2016, the Center conducted four statewide Franklin & Marshall College Polls, which measured public opinion on a host of issues, including performance of elected officials, the state budget impasse, taxes, gun control, the U.S. presidential primary races, and the Pennsylvania Senate primary race. Other important similar research during included: A study of the economic impact of the Fulton Theatre in downtown Lancaster, Pennsylvania; a client satisfaction survey for the York Community Progress Council; and a member opinion survey for the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants and New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants.