As one of the first health departments to obtain national accreditation, the Oklahoma City-County Health Department (OCCHD) supports a robust presence in the community through innovation and partnerships on the local, state and national level. In 2014, OCCHD was awarded $20,000 of funding from the Food and Drug Administration to initiate an electronic inspection program. Successes from the initial grant awarded includes: purchasing 21 Apple iPads, keyboards, and care plans. This grant also covered the consultant fees with MyHealth/Verinovum to assist in contracting with the inspection software developers. Our latest self-assessment provided a full analysis of strengths and weaknesses with meeting established standards and protocols in a program with nearly 5,150 retail food establishments requiring at least 8,574 yearly inspections. OCCHD identified discrepancies with meeting several of the FDA Voluntary National Food Regulatory Program Standards (VNRFRPS), including Standards 4 and 6. In efforts to address this shortfall, the Oklahoma City-County Health Department (OCCHD) Consumer Protection Division established plans to convert to an electronic inspection program. The OCCHD and its Board of Health are committed to this project and has allocated resources for the development of our retail food electronic inspection program. The long term goal is to fully implement electronic inspections that will ensure real-time reporting, provide electronic follow-up and enforcement inspection notification reminders, and allow easy reference code citations during inspections. The objective of this grant is to use the $70,000 for each of the next 3 years to support the remaining phases for full implementation of the electronic inspection program.
The specific aims will develop the framework for OCCHD to meet standards 4 and 6 of the VNRFRPS and strengthen pre-existing protocols meeting the current standards.
(Aim 1). OCCHD Consumer Protection Division intends to meet the VNRFRPS Standard 4 requirements by fully implementing an electronic inspection program to address past deficiencies in the Consumer Protection quality assurance program.
(Aim 2). The adoption of the electronic inspection program will allow OCCHD Consumer Protection Division to meet the VNRFRPS Standard 6 requirements by fully implementing an electronic inspection program to demonstrate that credible follow up actions were taken. The electronic inspection program will greatly assist regulatory staff in routine monitoring and achieving compliance from regulated entities with the applicable regulations. As a PHAB accredited Health Department, OCCHD must (Aim 3) Meet standards to maintain agency accreditation with the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB).
(Aim 4) Finally, the electronic inspection programs will strengthen our adherence to Standard 7 by providing inspection results to the public in a data dashboard format.
The Oklahoma City-County Health Department is committed to consistent quality assurance and quality improvement for the agency. Our agency is responsible for providing services to a diverse and growing population. We have seen a 6% population increase over the past 5 years. Because of this growing population, we have seen an increase in regulated retail food establishment thus increase the regulatory burden of the OCCHD. OCCHD has decided to convert to electronic inspections to aid the food regulatory staff in adapting to the challenges associated with an ever expanding population. The OCCHD and their Board of Health are committed to this project and has budgeted funds for the development of our retail food electronic inspection program. As a result of our self-assessment and our failure to meet several of the FDA Voluntary National Retail Food Regulatory Program Standards, including Standards 4 and 6. Our electronic inspection program will increase the time efficiency of inspections, allow rapid access to inspection reports, provide reminders of when follow-up and enforcement inspections are due, and allow correct code citations by our inspectors. It will also allow each inspector to complete a legible inspection report. Upon conclusion of this project the OCCHD will meet 5 of the 9 VNRFRPS Standards which will then include Standards 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7.