Policy Analysis and Evaluation
We engage community members and partners to collect valuable perspectives on the social and educational impact of policy, identifying potential policy options that could address issues and then compare those options to choose the most effective, efficient, and feasible approach.
While often used interchangeably, policy analysis and policy evaluation are two tools the Health Affairs Institute uses to understand the potential or previous impact of public or institutional policies. A policy evaluation or analysis, when done with stakeholder support, improves the amount of information available to decision makers. It can be applied to policies when under development or when assessing an existing policy’s impact and effectiveness.
Policy analysis is the process of helping stakeholders decide which policy would have the best intended impact. When identifying possible policy options, we conduct literature reviews, environmental scans, and surveys of best practices, then describe each option’s health impact, cost of implementation, and usefulness. This may involve looking at states, countries, or geographic regions that have done similar initiatives, or it may involve forecasting and modeling to predict the efficacy of each policy under consideration. We then rank the policies based on health effects, economic and budgetary impact, and feasibility, ultimately determining which policy option is best for the given situation and stakeholders.
Policy evaluation is often used if a policy was newly implemented, if there was some debate about changing or eliminating an existing policy, or if there were a pilot program that would allow certain regions or groups to try out a policy before wider implementation. Policy evaluation helps us understand the wider effects of policy, from whether it is working or not to any unintended consequences. Furthermore, we also determine whether a policy accurately conveys the technical details to those involved, and whether the policy is treating those affected ethically and legally. This aids decision makers’ possible adjustments in implementation or future policy change to create better outcomes and efficiency.
Health Affairs also helps government agencies and nonprofit organizations overcome barriers such as lack of staff time and expertise when they are tasked with policy analysis and evaluation. In West Virginia, this is a key part of WVU’s State-University partnership that incorporates collaboration and innovation across many state and county agencies. Our consultation keeps this analysis and evaluation protected and independent, delivering reliable results our partners can trust.