Learn About Public Health Accreditation
To successfully achieve accreditation, it is important for leadership to first understand the requirements and commit to the process. To learn about accreditation and determine readiness to apply, the following informational resources offer answers to everything a health director may need to know when considering accreditation, including the process requirements, costs, and benefits.
The PHAB Standards and Measures document provides guidance for public health departments preparing for initial accreditation. This document assists health departments as they select documentation for each measure. It also directs the site visit team members in the review of documentation and in determining whether conformity with a measure is demonstrated. All health departments submitting their applications after June 3, 2014 will be reviewed under Standards and Measures Version 1.5.
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.
NACCHO's Journeys to accreditation webinar features the experiences of three health departments in preparing for initial accreditation.
The Health Director must appoint an accreditation coordinator to oversee the accreditation process. Additionally, a multidisciplinary accreditation preparation team must be formed and, depending on size and structure of the LHD, consist of any combination of senior management, management, program staff, and frontline staff. The following resources are available to assist with forming the accreditation preparation team.
- The Accreditation Coordinator is the person responsible for coordinating the application and accreditation process within the health department. PHAB has developed a guide that includes requirements for the Accreditation Coordinator and other considerations when selecting or appointing the staff person. You can access the handbook here (NOTE: this resource is for version 1.0).
- This guide for local health departments walks through the principle steps in undertaking the process for collecting PHAB documentation including forming the accreditation preparation team, orienting staff to accreditation, gathering documentation, and identifying areas of strength and weakness.
- Additionally, this guide for tribal health departments is intended to assist THD staff in undertaking a self-study process in a meaningful manner and in alignment with PHAB requirements. Like the LHD guide, on which it is based, it helps THDs identify strengths and uncover gaps in performance based on the PHAB standards and measures. This tool accompanies the guide. These tools were developed in collaboration with Red Star Innovations (NOTE: this resource is for version 1.0).
The Operational Definition of a Functional Local Health Department defines what people in any community can reasonably expect from their local governmental public health presence. It sets forth a series of standards based on the Ten Essential Public Health Services and serves as the framework for the standards of the national voluntary accreditation program operated by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB).
NACCHO supports voluntary accreditation for health departments through PHAB and encourages the use of the Operational Definition as an accreditation preparation tool. The functions outlined in this framework are directly aligned with the ten domains outlined in Part B of the PHAB standards. LHDs that assess the degree to which they fulfill the functions outlined in this framework and engage in capacity-building quality improvement activities will likely be better prepared for national accreditation. Beyond the launch of the national accreditation program, the Operational Definition will continue to remain valuable in defining the work of local public health practice.
- Who is eligible to apply for PHAB accreditation? View PHAB's guidelines for Eligibility.
- What does it cost to apply for PHAB accreditation? View the PHAB fee schedule.
- Hear from health departments who have applied for initial accreditation in NACCHO's archived Journeys to accreditation webinar.
- PHAB's guide to public health accreditation