IE TIG Week: Using Evaluation of Service Geography for Organizational Improvement by Matan BenYishay and Allison Guarino

Hello! We are Matan BenYishay, Program Evaluation Manager, and Allison Guarino, Quality Improvement Coordinator, at AIDS Action Committee, the public health division of Fenway Health in Boston. We are sharing a lesson from our low-threshold Drug-User Health Program called Access. Among other services, this program trains and distributes Naloxone to People Who Use Drugs (PWUD) to reverse opioid overdoses. Last year, we found that people trained reversed 376 overdoses, a 50 percent increase from the prior year, and wanted to evaluate what made that increase possible.

Access has served many PWUD at our Cambridge office for years. However, our data showed that the program was seeing mostly white clients; by not taking an intersectional approach we were failing to address health disparities for communities of color and non-English-speaking communities. Therefore, just before the start of the program year, the organization decided to open another program outpost with bilingual staff at our Roxbury location, which is home to large Spanish-speaking communities and communities of color.

A little background: when a client returns to refill their Naloxone, program staff ask them if they used their previous dose to reverse an overdose. If so, staff ask the zip code where the overdose took place. By analyzing the location data for these program years, we found that branching services out beyond our traditional, saturated locations in Cambridge yielded major positive outcomes. While overdose reversals still increased in the communities the program had served for a while, we saw the largest increases in overdose reversals in the neighborhoods around Roxbury. (The number of monolingual and bilingual Spanish-speakers the program trained and distributed Naloxone to also increased four-fold.)

We shared this insight with program staff using a 3D map tour. This not only validated the hard, life-saving work of the program staff; it also helped them see the value of the data they were collecting. While staff of this program have had buy-in for data collection for some time, presenting their data in this new way helped them see the difference it made in entire communities.

Lessons Learned: Tracking the location where outcomes occur outside of your organization’s doors can link your outputs to their outcomes. This is especially helpful when you bring services to a new location.

Cool Trick: Microsoft Excel has a tool called 3D Maps that you can use with any geo-coded data, including zip codes (built into Excel 2016 or 365; free add-in in 2013). You can create Map Tours that you can view in Excel or share as videos. We link an example video below. You may need to click “download” in order to view the videos.

Low-res version for mobile:!Aga7IgJ5QXxl0MIvUC8esu3_Avzssg

High-res version for fast internet:!Aga7IgJ5QXxl0MIu8tYyixJ9lUbmpA

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Internal Evaluation (IE) Topical Interest Group Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our IE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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