Local Public Health Department Accreditation
National public health accreditation aims to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of state, tribal, and local health departments. Accreditation will drive public health departments to continuously improve the quality of the services they deliver to the community (Source: PHAB).
Public health departments play a critical, but often unrecognized, role in promoting and preserving the health of people in communities across the country. Despite the important role health departments play in our communities, there has not been a national system for ensuring their accountability and quality – until now.
Other community services and organizations have seen the value of accreditation, such as schools, day care centers, police departments and hospitals. Now, there is an opportunity for public health departments to measure their performance, get recognition for their accomplishments and demonstrate accountability within their communities. Also, as the public health field faces increasing challenges from epidemics and disaster preparedness, it is more important than ever that systems are in place to ensure their effectiveness and quality of services (Source: PHAB).
3. Minnesota is known for its great public health system. Why should Minnesota's local public health departments apply?
Accreditation is considered a "next step" in Minnesota's ongoing effort to improve the quality and performance of the public health system. Establishing consistent program performance expectations and related measurable indicators could promote consistent and improved public health practice in Minnesota. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and other national public health leadership organizations have been very supportive of national public health accreditation as a way to ensure quality and visibility of public health departments.
MDH has received a grant from through the CDC National Public Health Improvement Initiative to shepherd MDH's accreditation process and to support local and tribal public health departments which choose to seek accreditation. The Commissioner of Health is advised by the State Community Health Services Advisory Committee (SCHSAC). SCHSAC approved the recommendations of its Performance Improvement and Accreditation Workgroup, which included:
- that local public health performance improvement system should be aligned with the national standards,
- that MDH and Community Health Boards (CHBs) should work together so that all CHBs are prepared to apply for voluntary national accreditation by 2015, and
- that CHBs and local health departments should review their governance and organizational structures, responsibilities, authorities and current legal agreements in relation to the national standards and the voluntary national accreditation program.
The workgroup's full recommendation is available online:
- National Public Health Standards and Voluntary Accreditation: Implications and Opportunities for Public Health Performance Improvement in Minnesota (PDF: 725KB / 56 pages)
Performance Improvement and Accreditation Work Group, Dec. 2010
Minnesota's local public health departments will be joining many of peer health departments across the country who will also seek accreditation.
The external validation and objective feedback from the PHAB accreditation process could have significant potential to accelerate performance improvement.
Health departments will position themselves to capitalize on anticipated funding preferences for accredited health departments. Going through the process will also highlight areas for improvement, and health departments may be able to better frame grant proposals to address those gaps.
The process will provide health departments with an opportunity to think about their mission, vision, and values, and how to do business given the challenging social and economic environment. Accreditation may raise the visibility of public health issues and provide a point of entry for decision-making discussions involving public health.
5. How will the Minnesota Local Public Health Assessment and Planning process support CHBs and local health departments to meet accreditation standards?
The newly revised Local Public Health Assessment and Planning process was updated based on recommendations from SCHSAC, the State Community Health Services Advisory Committee, to align the process with the national accreditation standards.
The process aligns with the PHAB Standards and Measures by using PHAB definitions and criteria. Guidance and technical assistance from MDH will also be based on the PHAB Standards and Measures.
Completing the Minnesota Local Public Health Assessment and Planning Process will result in:
- A thorough understanding of the standards and measures after conducting the organizational self-assessment.
- A completed prerequisite for accreditation, the Community Health Assessment, as defined in PHAB Standard 1.1.
- A completed prerequisite, the Community Health Improvement Plan, as defined in PHAB Standard 5.2.
- A completed prerequisite, the organizational Strategic Plan, as defined in PHAB Standard 5.3.
- A completed Quality Improvement Plan to submit as documentation for Standard 9.2.
After completing the Local Public Health Assessment and Planning Process, the CHB will have the plans it needs to implement before pursuing accreditation. PHAB isn't just asking for plan documents. Accreditation requires implementing, monitoring, reporting, and revising these plans.
- More Information: Local Public Health Assessment & Planning Process
6. Will a community health board or an individual local public health department apply for accreditation?
PHAB's Guide to National Public Health Department Accreditation states that:
A local health department is defined, for the purposes of PHAB accreditation, as the governmental body serving a jurisdiction or group of jurisdictions geographically smaller than a state and recognized as having the primary statutory authority to promote and protect the public's health and prevent disease in humans. This authority is defined by the state's constitution, statute, or regulations or established by local ordinance or through formal local cooperative agreement or mutual aid. The entity may be a locally governed health department, a local entity of a centralized state health department, or a city, city-county, county, district, or regional health department.
Please contact PHAB for further guidance.
MDH can provide a variety of training, technical assistance and consulting.
- More Information: Support from MDH
PHAB released the final Standards and Measures [Attn: Non-MDH link] in July 2011. Applications for accreditation will open in October of 2011.
You can find more information the cost of accreditation at
PHAB: Fee Overview [Attn: Non-MDH link].
A five-year accreditation cycle has been adopted by the PHAB Board.
- More Information: PHAB Guide to National Public Health Department Accreditation [Attn: Non-MDH link]
PHAB's Board of Directors and the PHAB Standards Development Workgroup, along with significant feedback from public health leaders and practitioners, developed the standards, measures and processes that were formally adopted by PHAB's Board in August 2009. PHAB held a public vetting process on the draft standards which resulted in a tremendous amount of feedback from the public health field. PHAB received 4,000 individual comments, online surveys and group feedback forms. The Standards Development Workgroup reviewed all public comments thoroughly and is grateful for the invaluable feedback provided by all who participated in the public vetting process (Source: PHAB).
Other types of accreditation aim to promote quality of services and performance, based on a national set of standards, but differ in the types of entities eligible to apply and the types of services to be improved by standards. Each accrediting body is a unique entity that has different policies, procedures, standards, methodology for revising its standards, length of awarding accreditation, etc.
- JCAHO: Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations,
- AAAHC: Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care
[Attn: Non-MDH links]