By Lowrie Ward, Program Analyst, NACCHO
This summer, the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) began accepting applications for its voluntary national accreditation program under Standards and Measures Version 1.5. According to PHAB, this updated version of its standards and measures clarifies the wording of requirements, stipulates the number of examples that are required for each measure, and specifies the time frame for each measure. Additionally, PHAB included a limited number of noteworthy public health issues that are emerging as important forces in the advancement of public health. Information about these changes is available at www.phaboard.org.
The changes have received praise from many in the field, with many local health departments (LHDs) indicating that the clarifications, revisions, and additions are valuable. Laurie Dietsch, Accreditation Coordinator at Columbus Public Health (accredited March 2014), thinks the changes are “PHABulous” and notes that PHAB “listened to the feedback from health departments that have gone through the process and made changes to clear up confusing areas.” She thinks that these changes “make version 1.5 a true reflection of quality improvement, which is what accreditation is all about.”
April Harris, Accreditation Coordinator at the Three Rivers District Health Department in Kentucky (accredited February 2013), has similar feelings. As a representative of an accredited agency, she is “thrilled that PHAB is demonstrating a willingness to consistently improve.” Alan Kalos, Accreditation Coordinator at the Northern Kentucky Health Department (accredited February 2013), says that “aside from more clearly identifying the purpose and types of documents required, the most helpful aspect of [Version] 1.5 is the redesigned format. The new format clearly indicates the time frame and the number of examples required. This makes preparing to meet the requirement and developing a timeline for needed processes much easier.”
As a part of NACCHO’s ongoing efforts to support LHDs as they prepare for accreditation, NACCHO has updated several resources to reflect the changes to the standards and measures:
- In NACCHO’s Example Documentation Library, which is a collection of documentation that LHDs plan to submit to PHAB, NACCHO has removed examples that no longer meet Version 1.5 Throughout the summer, more examples will be added that conform specifically to Version 1.5.
- NACCHO also updated its Documentation Selection Tools. These are resources that help accreditation coordinators and teams collect and organize documentation in ways other than measure by measure. For example, one popular tool is the programmatic documentation matrix. This includes a list of all PHAB measures that can be met with documentation from a program area. Teams can use this matrix to select documentation and make sure that their submissions reflect the “breadth and depth of programming at the health department,” as PHAB requires. This tool and others have been redone so that they are in alignment with Version 1.5
Both the Example Documentation Library and the Documentation Selection Tools can be accessed from www.naccho.org/documentation.
- NACCHO has also updated the Developing a Local Health Department Strategic Plan: A How-To Guide. This guide provides a framework for LHDs to use as they conduct the process that creates an agency strategic plan, a PHAB prerequisite. While the entire guide hasn’t been recreated, it contains an addendum document that indicates where revisions and updates are necessary.
This guide and other strategic plan resources are available at www.naccho.org/prerequisites.
- The Accreditation Support Initiative (ASI) from NACCHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funds LHDs around the country as they prepare for national accreditation. The ASI website (www.naccho.org/asi), which includes documentation and other valuable resources, has been updated to reflect the recipients of last year’s awards—many of which are applying under Version 1.5.
You may still find some NACCHO resources that have not been adjusted to reflect the changes in Version 1.5. Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org if you find something that you believe should be updated.
NACCHO staff are available as a technical assistance resource for all areas of accreditation preparation. PHAB provides guidance related to the technical aspects of the accreditation process and interpretation of the standards and measures, while NACCHO and other partners can help organizations as they prepare to meet the requirements of the standards and measures. NACCHO staff can review documentation and provide feedback based on our interpretation of the PHAB requirements. Additionally, we are also happy to connect LHD staff with peers from around the country doing similar work in their communities. If you are interested in technical assistance, visit www.naccho.org/accreditation or e-mail email@example.com.