Preparation for National Accreditation

When preparing for the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) application process departments will review a statement listing principles by which the health department will abide, including an agreement to follow the guidelines of the PHAB accreditation program and a declaration of the accuracy of all information submitted. This statement includes the health department director’s assurance that the health department has an adopted, current (dated within the previous five years) community health assessment, community health improvement plan, and department strategic plan.

To learn more about PHAB’s preparation suggestions and to view examples of document development from three LHDs, view a webinar entitled CHAs, CHIPs, and Strategic Plans, Oh My! that NACCHO hosted on Nov. 17, 2009 (please e-mail accreditprep@naccho.org to access video). Please note the date of this webinar and that none of the examples or resources provided in this section of the website have been evaluated against the PHAB standards and measures. These resources are examples only.

PHAB's Glossary of Terms (Link to PDF) defines strategic planning as "a disciplined process aimed at producing fundamental decisions and actions that will shape and guide what an organization is, what it does, and why it does what it does. The process of assessing a changing environment to create a vision of the future; determining how the organization fits into the anticipated environment, based on its mission, strengths, and weaknesses; then setting in motion a plan of action to position the organization," with the strategic plan focusing on a range of agency level organizational goals, strategies and objectives, including new initiatives.

To learn more about PHAB’s requirements and NACCHO's strategic planning guide, view the 2012 Strategic Planning webinar.

A few tools that assist LHDs in developing strategic plans for their agencies include:

Developing a LHD Strategic Plan: A How-To Guide

NACCHO has developed a robust how-to guide for undertaking the strategic planning process. Aligned with PHAB's strategic planning requirements, this guide offers step-by-step instructions, important considerations, and modifiable tools and templates for use in any type of LHD. A NACCHO webinar featured the guide in May of 2012.

You can also access our associated worksheets here.

Developing a Tribal Health Department Strategic Plan: A How-To Guide

This is a robust guide to undertaking the strategic planning process, specifically for Tribal Health Departments. It is aligned with PHAB's requirements and offers instructions and templates for agency use. This guide was developed in collaboration with Red Star Innovations. It is available here.

Community Toolbox, Chapter Eight: Developing a Strategic Plan

The Community Tool Box, created by the Work Group for Community Health and Development at the University of Kansas, provides information on how to build healthier and more equitable communities. Chapter Eight of the tool box ("Developing a Strategic Plan") provides practical, step-by-step guidance on how to embark on the strategic planning process. You can access it here.

Strategic Planning for Non-Profit Organizations

Written by John M. Bryson, this book will help public health leaders understand what strategic planning and management are and how to apply them in their own organizations. It is available for purchase here.

Creating and Implementing Your Strategic Plan: A Workbook for Public and Nonprofit Organizations

This hard-copy workbook, written by John M. Bryson and Farnum K. Alston, is a step-by-step guide on strategic planning in public and nonprofit organizations, and provides easy-to-understand worksheets and clear instructions for creating a strategic plan tailored to the needs of an individual organization. It is available for purchase here

South Central Public Health Partnership Training

The SCPHP offers free Internet-based trainings on public health topics such as bioterrorism, risk communication, leadership management, communication skills, and environmental health. Interested public health professionals must register to enroll. The "Leadership, Strategic Planning and Systems Approaches" training provides enrollees with strategic analysis and planning skills.

*These strategic plans were evaluated against the PHAB Standards and Measures Version 1.0 by NACCHO Staff. These individuals, based on their understanding of the standards and measures, have classified them as meeting the PHAB requirements and being high-quality documents. These have not been approved by PHAB or any PHAB site visitors for the purposes of meeting relevant standards and measures.

**PHAB's application requirement includes a statement from the health department's director with an assurance that the health department has an adopted, current (dated within the previous five years) community health assessment, community health improvement plan, and department strategic plan.

In addition to NACCHO, the following partner organizations actively support the development of the voluntary national accreditation program for state and local health departments.

American Public Health Association (APHA): Through its strong and diverse partnerships and alliances, APHA strives to strengthen and improve the nation's public health, including endorsing efforts to establish a national accreditation program for public health services.  APHA has a resolution supporting accreditation, and continues its involvement with Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) and the development of the national accreditation program.

Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO): Through its Accreditation and Performance Standards projects, ASTHO is committed to supporting continuous quality improvement and securing excellence in state-based public health practice.  ASTHO supports state health departments in their efforts by providing tools and resources as well as comprehensive technical assistance to prepare states to better position themselves for accreditation under the voluntary national accreditation program.  Through forming effective collaborations with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other partners, ASTHO assists in the development, evaluation, and implementation of the National Public Health Performance Standards, and provides training and funding for states to learn about and use the National Public Health Performance Standards Program state instrument.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): The CDC recognizes accreditation as an essential approach in strengthening the public health infrastructure in its strategic development process, the CDC Futures Initiative.  CDC efforts to support accreditation and promote continuous quality improvement (QI) include providing funding for projects such as Exploring Accreditation, the National Public Health Performance Standards Program, the Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships program, NACCHO's accreditation preparation and QI projects, and the creation of the Public Health Accreditation Board.  CDC is also funding research on accreditation and public health systems.

National Indian Health Board (NIHB): NIHB represents and advocates on behalf of 562 federally recognized tribes throughout the country. In 2008, NIHB received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to conduct a project to assess the feasibility of the promotion of voluntary public health accreditation and public health standards in Indian Country. Through outreach and education at national conferences focused on Indian health, the NIHB has found that public health accreditation is feasible in Indian Country, and that there is significant enthusiasm for public health accreditation by tribal leaders and public health professionals. Accreditation is consistent with Native Vision of healthy communities and improving health broadly.

National Network of Public Health Institutes & Multi-State Learning Collaborative (NNPHI & MLC): NNPHI supports collaborative efforts aimed at improving public health structures, systems, and outcomes.  NNPHI is engaged in the National Public Health Performance Standards Program and manages the MLC project sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which will further advance the efforts of states already conducting systematic performance and capacity assessment or accreditation programs and quality improvement activities with their public health departments.

Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB)

PHAB is the non-profit entity charged with developing and overseeing the national accreditation program. It was founded as a result of the findings of Exploring Accreditation project, which determined that a voluntary national accreditation program was both feasible and desirable. In 2005-6, a Steering Committee comprised of 25 representatives from public health organizations at local, state, and federal levels established a model for voluntary national accreditation program, incorporating public comment and feedback. PHAB was incorporated in May 2007 and anticipates accepting applications for accreditation in 2011.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF): RWJF has been engaged in supporting programs that help improve upon and ensure high quality public health systems and services, in order to further its mission to improve the nation's health status and health care delivery.  RWJF is committed to improving the health and health care of all Americans.  To achieve its mission, RWJF has sponsored such projects as the Multi-State Learning Collaborative program, NACCHO's accreditation preparation and QI efforts, On Common Ground, various quality improvement initiatives, and more.  In addition, RWJF was a supporting partner in the Exploring Accreditation Project and continues to be a partner and funder in the development of PHAB.

Public Health Foundation (PHF): PHF is a principle contributor in efforts to improve health status of communities by providing a variety of tools and resources, including research, training, and technical assistance to health departments and organizations in order to enhance performance and workforce capacity.  PHF is a partner in the NPHPSP and provides tools and resources related to performance and quality improvement.

Public Health Informatics Institute (PHII): PHII led a collaborative project involving representatives from local health departments nationwide, as well as NACCHO, from September 2005 through May 2006, entitled "A Collaboration to Define Local Public Health Business Processes." The project defined a set of business processes that local health departments can use as a means to build and improve their information systems to meet their needs.  Business process analysis can be used to encourage quality improvement in local health departments.