Strengthening the Community of Practice

Accreditation and quality improvement in public health

Dates of Program: October 2011–December 2014

The Community of Practice for Public Health Improvement (COPPHI) is about building “capacity and the passion for shared learning to propel public health departments in the drive for accreditation and quality improvement.”—Pamela G. Russo, MD, MPH, Senior Program Officer, RWJF

Description: Health departments are the front line of defense against many of the nation’s most pressing health challenges—from chronic illness to food safety and disaster preparedness. Accreditation can strengthen public health’s capacity to protect the health of the population by establishing consistent national quality standards and measuring the performance of health departments against them.

To advance accreditation and quality improvement in public health, the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) is building a community of practice through three strategies: 

  • Hosting Open Forums that allow public health practitioners and experts to share information about preparing for accreditation and best practices in quality improvement.
  • Promoting shared learning by providing small grants ($5,000) to selected health departments to conduct a quality improvement (QI) project that is designed to result in measurable change. Individualized, distance-based coaching is part of the award. 
  • Promoting use of the Public Health Quality Improvement Exchange (PHQIX), a searchable online database that organizes information from public health quality improvement projects. All 60 health departments that receive QI Awards are required to submit their QI project results to PHQIX.

COPPHI is playing a core role in reframing perspectives on accreditation as the link to quality improvement, and the resulting benefits, becomes clear.

“Accreditation is not a rubber stamp. It’s about continuous QI. It is part of the overall picture of quality improvement in health departments.”—Jennifer McKeever, MPH, Co-Director, COPPHI

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#RWJF program is building capacity for shared learning; driving toward public health quality/accreditation