For health departments that are preparing to apply for accreditation, PHAB recommends working diligently on the following, at a minimum:
Appoint an Accreditation Coordinator and department-wide team for review of the process, standards, measures, and documentation guidance, as well as the identification of documents.
Review PHAB’s Online Orientation to Public Health Department Accreditation. While this review is required for the Accreditation Coordinator and the health department director, it contains great information that health departments can share with their staff, boards of health, elected officials, and community partners as they prepare for accreditation.
Review the documentation requirements for the measures and note the areas where the health department needs to be sure that documentation potentially used in accreditation is “up to speed”. That means dating agendas, communications, and policies as they are developed; signing and dating contracts; keeping sign-in sheets for various trainings; and creating an electronic filing system to store information so that it can be easily found for future reference.
Begin/refine work on the prerequisites. Completing these prerequisites lays wonderful groundwork for identifying the documentation for meeting the rest of the measures. So, getting these done properly will get a health department off to a good start. Remember to contact one of our national partners (ASTHO, NACCHO, NALBOH, NIHB, NNPHI, and PHF) for technical assistance with these processes. As a reminder the components are:
Community health assessment involves a process of collecting, analyzing, and using data to educate and mobilize communities, develop priorities, garner resources, and plan actions to improve the public’s health. It is one of the core functions of public health, which is why it’s in the accreditation standards. It involves the systematic collection and analysis of data in order to provide the health department and the community it serves with a sound basis for decision-making. It should be conducted in partnership with other organizations in the community and include collecting data on health status, health needs, community assets, resources, and other community or state determinants of health status. A community health assessment links directly to Standard 1.1. The intention here is that, for accreditation purposes, the health department can demonstrate that it systematically assesses its jurisdiction’s health status and can describe it. Most health departments should have access to much of the data needed. Partnerships with hospitals, academic institutions, other governmental agencies (such as schools or police), and non-profit health promotion organizations will help to access additional data needed to assess the health of the community or state. Putting it all together in an organized way to describe the health status or health profile of the community it serves might be a little different way to use the information available.
Community health improvement plan is a long-term systematic effort to address issues identified by the assessment and community health improvement process. It is broader than the health department agency and its development, and should include participation of a broad set of community partners. A solid community health improvement plan can be used by partners to prioritize activities and set priorities. The health improvement plan links directly to Standard 5.2 and its measures. For accreditation purposes, the community health improvement plan should be updated at least every five years.
The department strategic plan is internal to the health department, although may have been developed with input from partners. It shapes and guides what the health department does and why it does it; it sets forth the department’s vision, mission, guiding principles and values, and strategic priorities; and describes measurable and time-framed goals and objectives. The strategic plan should include steps to implement portions of the community health improvement plan as well as other strategic issues for the department. The strategic plan links directly to Standard 5.3 and its measures.