Public Health Accreditation and MCH Programs: A Natural Partnership for Health Improvement
By Kaye Bender, PhD, RN, FAAN
President and CEO, PHAB
The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) was established in 2007 to establish a national voluntary public health accreditation program for state, local and tribal health departments. The idea came about as a result of a previous study, Exploring Accreditation, in which it was determined that it is both desirable and feasible to embark on this effort. PHAB has recently been busy developing and vetting the proposed standards for accreditation, in which we received almost 4,000 individual comments. Approximately 123 online surveys were completed. Many of the responses represented a group process, so a significantly larger number of public health stakeholders contributed this input. About 35 paper surveys were received. Twenty-nine feedback forms were received from groups who held vetting discussions. We also received more than a dozen narrative comments submitted in emails or letters. The Board will receive the analysis of this feedback, edit the standards and begin the beta test later in the fall. This next process will test the standards, measures, assessment process, and written support documents in order to identify areas for improvement. Revisions can then be adopted prior to the official launch of the program, in 2011. The letters of invitation will be released in July for health departments to apply to participate in the beta test. PHAB will ensure that the health departments selected for the beta test represent the broad array of health departments that exist across the country. PHAB is seeking to identify a variety of health departments relative to size, structure, population served, governance, geographic region, and degree of preparedness for accreditation. Beta test sites will be announced in October 2009 and training will begin shortly thereafter.
We hope that MCH program staff will support their health departments in submitting applications to be a beta test site. MCH information, such as the needs assessment, strategic planning documents, population focused health education materials, policies, plans, and other similar work products associated with maintaining a solid MCH program can be used as some of the documentation for meeting the standards. The beta test is a great opportunity to see how that will work when the accreditation program officially begins. Accreditation goals are consistent with those of MCH programs: to support quality and performance improvement in the public health services provided by the health departments. For more information or to see how to get involved, please visit here.