Health Outcomes

Department of Health

Department Leadership:

W. David Patton, Ph.D., Executive Director
Robert T. Rolfs, MD, MPH, Deputy Director
Michael Hales. MPA, Deputy Director

Mission Statement:

The mission of the Utah Department of Health is to protect the public's health through preventing avoidable illness, injury, disability and premature death; assuring access to affordable, quality health care; and promoting healthy lifestyles.

Our vision for Utah:
    A place where all people
      can enjoy the best health possible,
        where all can live,
          grow and prosper in
            clean and safe communities.

Performance Reports

(Click report below; view to right)
  • Overview
  • Governor's Priority Alignment
  • Early Childhood Intervention
  • Patient Safety Initiative
  • Gonorrhea and Chlamydia Infections
  • Children's Health Insurance (CHIP)
  • Utah's Medicaid Enrollment
  • Expand all reports on one (1)

More Department Performance:

Emerging Issues and Strategies for Department of Health
External Link Learn more at their website


The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) has a total budget of approximately $1.9 billion and over 900 employees. The Department is the point of contact for all public health issues in the state. Divisions within the Department include Health Care Financing, which administers Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Primary Care Network (PCN) and Utah Premium Partnership. Combined, these programs provide health service funding for more than 300,000 children, pregnant women, and other adults each year. Other divisions are Community and Family Health Services, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services, and Health Systems Improvement.

The UDOH has the responsibility for many other public health programs managed by these divisions including:

  • The Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities, which serves about 6,000 children per year.
  • The WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Nutrition Program, which provides supplemental food and nutrition education to about 65,000 participants a month, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under five years of age.
  • The Utah Immunization Program, which coordinates the use of publicly purchased vaccine among local public and private providers for Utah residents.
  • The Bureau of Licensing, which inspects, licenses, and investigates citizen complaints regarding nursing homes, assisted living centers and child care centers.
  • The Center for Health Data, which issues birth and death certificates and also collects, analyzes, and reports information on the health status and services in Utah to help guide health policy decisions and for citizens to use in making choices about health care services.
  • Various statewide health promotion campaigns such as Baby Your Baby, Check Your Health, Truth about Tobacco, Immunize by Two, and others.

The Department is responsible for investigating and diagnosing health problems and health hazards in the community. Along with its Local Health and Community Partners and the medical community, UDOH is charged with recognizing and responding to natural and other disasters, outbreaks of diseases like influenza, West Nile virus and food poisoning, and intentional or terrorist acts involving biological or chemical agents.

Emerging Issues and Strategic Focus

The increasing cost of providing health insurance and declining availability of affordable policies will remain a significant challenge to both businesses and individuals. The issue has great impact on the quality of life, health status and the economy of our state.

The nation is not yet fully prepared to respond to large-scale hazards, man-made or naturally occurring. As a result, UDOH will continue to invest time and resources in all-hazards preparedness.

Emerging technologies will improve the department's capacity to conduct "real time" disease and health risk surveillance and reporting. This will provide the UDOH with the basis for making decisions based on the best scientific evidence and technology available.

Electronic personal health records, medical records and quality data reporting will help reduce health care costs. The UDOH's e-Health = Utah program will play an important role in developing such records.

Utah's growing and aging population will present new challenges to UDOH and the health care system. UDOH programs will need to ensure they can meet the demands of serving a growing population and help the private sector provide quality service to the aging population.

Health care costs can be reduced when citizens adopt more healthy lifestyles. Health promotion programs (nutrition, tobacco prevention and control, STDs, cancer control and chronic illness) play a vital role in encouraging the population to adopt such lifestyles .

Governor's Priority Alignment

The Department of Health's initiatives align with the Governor's four priorities as follows:

1 - Quality of Life

- Expand health insurance coverage in Utah
       Expand health Insurance Coverage for Utah's Children
       Develop the Utah Health Insurance Exchange - UHIE
         (with the Governor's Office of Economic Development)

- Protect the public's health
       Establish the Governor's Pandemic Influenza Preparedness
         Advisory Council and implement report recommendations
       Improve immunization rates
       Reduce the rate of Rx drug deaths
       Develop public health standards for methamphetamine site
- Prevent unnecessary disease and disability
       Promote healthy weight in Utah (Governor Huntsman's Initiative)
- Provide access to appropriate health care for select populations
         with special health care needs and/or economic and
         cultural barriers
       Implement Utah Premium Partnership (UPP)
       Continue to expand CHIP and manage PCN

2 - Economic Development

- Build the Unified State Laboratory (USL)
- Promote e-Health = Utah
- Identify and support Utah's Safety Net Providers

3 - Education

- Prevent cervical cancer deaths in Utah through education and
- Continue current ongoing efforts, including Gold Medal Schools,
      workplace initiatives
- Provide outreach to all minority populations
- Promote access to services for children with special needs
- Formalize and sustain relationships with Tribal communities

4 - Governance

- Participate in the National Governor's Association (NGA) Initiatives,
       NGA State Alliance for e-Health
       NGA Privacy Initiative
       Patient Safety Initiative
- Collaborate with e-Health Partners, including:
       Center for Excellence in Public Health Informatics
       Sichuan Province, China - Help establish Regional Health
           Information Organization (RHIO)
       Digital Health Commission
- Create the Utah Partnership for Healthy Weight to focus on state-
      wide collaboration with public and private sector representatives
      to develop effective programs to reduce the prevalence of obesity
- Formalize and sustain relationships with Tribal communities

Early Childhood Intervention

Data Source: Dept of Health

Why this is important:

The goal of early intervention services is to minimize the disability in the life of the child and enhance the family's capacity to meet their child's special needs.

What we're doing about it:

The state contracts with 15 agencies throughout the state to provide early intervention services to children and their families. The services are determined on an individual basis as a result of an evaluation of a child's total development. The parents concerns, priorities and resources are also considered in planning a program of services.

Who is eligible:

Children birth to age three are eligible for the program if they have a diagnosed condition that has a high probability of resulting in a developmental delay, i.e., Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy. A child can also qualify if an assessment shows a 1.5 standard deviation below the mean in one area of development.

Patient Safety Initiative

The Utah Patient Safety Initiative officially began October 15, 2001 with a set of regulations to govern the reporting of Sentinel Events and Adverse Drug Events to the Utah Department of Health by Utah hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers. This effort was accomplished without legislation or additional funding, with the cooperation of the Utah hospital and ambulatory surgical center industry. Its under the leadership and administrative support of HealthInsight, the Utah Hospital Association, the Utah Medical Association, and the Utah Department of Health.

For more information about Patient Safety, see our web site at:

Sentinel Events
Since the initiation of the sentinel event reporting rule, 219 sentinel events have been reported to the Utah Department of Health from Utah hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers. A Sentinel Event is defined as any unanticipated event in a health care setting resulting in death or serious physical or psychological injury to a person or persons, not related to the natural course of the patient's illness. Sentinel events specifically include loss of a limb or gross motor function, and any event for which a recurrence would carry a risk of a serious adverse outcome.

Data Source: UDOH

Prescription Based Overdoses
Over the past couple of years there has been a growing concern for the increase in prescription-based overdoses within the Utah Department of Health Medical Examiner's office. This concern has recently been documented (see below) and has resulted in an effort to generate professional and community awareness.

Data Source: UDOH

Several briefing sessions have been held with key players in the community resulting in the creation of a set of action strategies. This effort is led by Todd Grey, MD from the Medical Examiner's office and Robert Rolfs, MD State Epidemiologist. There is additional legislative activity underway in hopes of securing resources to develop interventions at a state-wide level.

Gonorrhea and Chlamydia Infections

Chlamydia and gonorrhea are bacterial infections that can exist without any noticeable symptoms. Left untreated, these infections can cause severe reproductive and related health problems. In females, untreated infections can spread and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can permanently damage the reproductive track, leading to infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the uterus). Gonorrhea also causes PID, infertility, chronic pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancy. Serious complications among males are less common for both gonorrhea and chlamydia. Males are more often symptomatic with gonorrhea than with chlamydia. Women with gonorrhea often have no symptoms.

Both chlamydial and gonorrheal infections can cause serious complications in an infant such as eye infections, blindness, pneumonia, or death, if the infant is infected during birth.

Data Source: UDOH

Why this is important:

Statewide, Utah is experiencing an increase in both chlamydia and gonorrhea cases. Statistics for 2006 indicate 888 gonorrhea cases and 5,092 chlamydia cases, marking a new precedent in sexually transmitted disease occurrence in Utah. In particular, those ages 15-24 are at highest risk for contracting chlamydia and gonorrhea. In 2006, 51% of gonorrhea and 67% of chlamydia cases were seen in this population. Increases in ages 13-19 are alarming, reflecting a need for more comprehensive STD education, testing and prevention services, targeting teenagers.

Since 2002, this 13-19 age group has seen over a 150% increase in gonorrhea cases while chlamydia has increased by 22%.

What we're doing about it:

Timely investigation, diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases are critical steps to stop further transmission. Further, careful analysis and dissemination to local health authorities and other partners about the nature of these diseases helps to inform and enhance prevention efforts. The Division is committed to disseminating this data on a quarterly basis. Efforts are underway to cross-train staff to work in several disease areas, including HIV, STD's and Hepatitis C infection. The Division also works closely with the 12 local health departments to rapidly identify cases, conduct testing and provide treatment.

Children's Health Insurance - CHIP

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a state health insurance plan for children. Families who do not have other health insurance may qualify for CHIP. Each one dollar of state funding is matched with approximately four dollars in federal funds. CHIP contracts with two of Utah's health insurers to provide coverage to enrollees. Eligibility determination is handled through the Department of Workforce Services.

CHIP holds open enrollment periods based on available funding. The program has accepted new applications from July 2005 to September 2006 and from July 2007 to the present.

Data Source: UDOH


Utah's Medicaid Enrollment

Since April 2006, Medicaid enrollment has seen a steady, gradual decline in enrollment. Utah's strong economy has been determined to be the main cause of this decline. Enrollment for people with disabilities or who are elderly has been steady or slightly increasing, while enrollment of children and their parents has dropped sharply.

Data Source: UDOH