APHA 2013: Update on Public Health Department Accreditation

Nov 8, 2013, 1:52 PM


A full house of American Public Health Association (APHA) annual meeting attendees got an update on health department accreditation this week from Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) president and CEO Kaye Bender, RN, PHD, FAAN; board chair Carol Moehrle; and vice chair Leslie Beitsch, MD, JD. Right now, Moehrle told the crowd, 19 health departments—local, state and tribal—have been granted the credential and more than 200 departments are in various stages of their applications.

Moehrle gave some “heads–ups” on what’s upcoming for accreditation in 2014, including revised application standards and measures—called version 1.5—as well as the establishment of several additional PHAB think tanks to help expand the issues health departments are asked about when they apply for accreditation. Information from the previous think tanks informed the development of the Guide to Public Health Department Accreditation Version 1.0 and the PHAB Standards and Measures Version 1.0. New topics for PHAB think tanks will include the U.S. Army.

Moehrle also announced that the new version will be released on the PHAB website in January 2014, and those new standards and measures become effective for health departments' seeking accreditation beginning on July 1, 2014. To apply under the 1.0 version, health departments must submit their application by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on June 2, 2014.

Moehrle said that PHAB is recommending that health departments review the proposed changes to the standards and measures before they automatically decide that they will apply under Version 1.0, because version 1.5 is designed to “enhance, strengthen, expand, and clarify the Standards and Measures document,” including the following:

  • Number of examples needed and timeframes for required documentation
  • Edits to version 1.0 for clarity and consistency, based on frequently asked questions from applying health departments
  • New measures and revised content to advance public health practice based on suggestions from PHAB Think Tanks conducted on special topics, including health equity, communication science, public health informatics, public health ethics, public health workforce and emergency preparedness

A show of hands during the APHA session showed that a few attendees came from health departments already accredited, a few more from departments currently in the application process and many who said their departments were still considering whether to apply for accreditation. As encouragement, Moehrle ticked off a few reasons health departments have given for seeking accreditation, including:

  • Transparency and accountability
  • Most other government elated services are accredited
  • Accreditation provides a priority setting framework
  • As a commitment to improve services
  • Increased public engagement and support
  • Increased staff morale
  • Potential for increasing funding in the future.
  • Already using accreditation credential in grant proposals

>>Bonus content: Below is a map of the 233 health departments in PHAB. View a larger version here.


>>Bonus Link: Read a special edition of the PHAB E-newsletter about the upcoming 1.5 version of the accreditation application standards and measures.

>>NewPublicHealth was on the ground throughout the APHA conference speaking to public health leaders and presenters, hearing from attendees on the ground and providing updates from sessions, with a focus on how we can build a culture of health. Find the complete coverage here.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.