Quality Improvement: The ‘New Way of Doing Business’

Accreditation Works!

PHAB accreditation is fueling a culture of performance management and continuous quality improvement throughout Tarrant County Public Health in Fort Worth, Texas.

BY DONALD FISHER, MS

Tarrant County Public Health in Fort Worth, Texas, has changed significantly as a result of going through the PHAB accreditation process. Prior to deciding to seek accreditation through PHAB, our health department had never worked with our community partners with the intention of completing a community health assessment that would be used to develop a community health improvement plan. Going through this process using the National Association of County and City Health Officials’ MAPP tool (Mobilizing for Action Through Planning and Partnerships) has helped to increase our community partnerships as well as strengthen our existing relationships. As we move forward, members of our community now have a voice and an active role in addressing their health issues. Going through the accreditation process also helped us to better identify our strengths and opportunities. For example, we identified our established community partner relationships as one of our strengths. Another area of improvement includes documenting our processes. Our department’s policy monitoring process is now more efficient, which enables us to accomplish timely revisions and updates.

However, performance management and continuous quality improvement are the two areas in which we have seen the most growth. As we began to prepare for accreditation, we identified an opportunity to implement a performance management system that is completely integrated into the department’s daily practice at all levels. In the past we had completed quality improvement projects sporadically in limited areas, but not intentionally throughout the entire department. Once we identified our performance standards we realized there was a gap in staff knowledge about general quality improvement principles and skills. To address that gap, we brought in a quality improvement consultant to train our leadership team and staff in positions to help with change management. Our next step was to increase our staff’s awareness and skill level through training. Over a two-year period, all of our divisions completed at least one quality improvement project using the identified performance improvement standards. We now have a culture of continuous quality improvement throughout the department and an acceptance of this new way of doing business.

After becoming accredited in November 2015, we began to look for opportunities to improve our performance management system and continuous quality improvement activities. We have since hired a full time Performance Improvement Manager and are looking to acquire new performance management software. We have also added a budget for performance management and quality improvement. We have already realized improvements in many of our division processes. We believe this is a direct outcome of both preparing for and obtaining accreditation status through the Public Health Accreditation Board.

The author is the Workforce Development Manager at Tarrant County Public Health in Fort Worth, Texas. Tarrant County Public Health was awarded national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board on Nov. 10, 2015.

About “Accreditation Works”
“Accreditation Works” is a new feature designed to showcase the benefits national accreditation brings to public health departments and communities while also providing insight into accreditation’s broad impact. To support this feature, PHAB-accredited health departments are invited to contribute 300-to-600-word narratives describing how their health department has changed as a result of going through the accreditation process. Collectively, these stories serve as first-hand testimonies of how PHAB accreditation benefits health departments and their communities. Submissions may be emailed to tnicolaus@phaboard.org.

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