Quality Improvement and Accreditation Readiness in State Public Health Agencies

In the past several years state budgets for public health resources have been reduced, while the demand for public health services has continued to grow.

Between April and November 2010 the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASHTO) conducted a national, web-based profile survey of state public health agencies (SPHAs). Leaders at each agency completed the 152-item survey. The survey compared results from 2010 with the survey conducted in 2007 with respect to implementing health assessments; improving and planning public health initiatives; and assessing interest in and readiness for national voluntary accreditation of state public health agencies. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and two territories had responded to the survey, yielding a response rate of 100 percent of states and the District of Columbia, and 93 percent overall.

Key Findings:

  • Unfazed by the economy, most states are preparing for national accreditation.
  • Preparation for national accreditation will foster necessary quality improvement (QI) research and practices.
  • In the year leading up to the 2010 survey, nearly all SPHAs conducted at least one QI project.
  • SPHAs must improve states’ public health services together; isolation will hinder progress.
  • Accreditation is a means, not an end, to performance improvement.

This article reports the findings of a web-based survey of SPHAs; leaders at each agency reported the presence of performance management processes, standards and measures, and progress reporting.