Special Journal Issue Highlights Quality Improvement (QI) in Public Health

The special issue highlights the major efforts in public health QI today, including several priority initiatives funded by RWJF.

The January/February 2010 issue of the Journal of Public Health Management Practice (JPHMP) focuses exclusively on quality improvement (QI) in public health. The issue highlights current efforts to advance quality improvements in public health services, including the innovative work of public health departments and efforts to prepare for public health accreditation. Leading public health organizations and practitioners contributed to the journal articles, including authors from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Association of City and County Health Officials (NACCHO), National Association of Local Boards of Health (NALBOH), National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI), Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), Public Health Foundation, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

The JPHMP issue is particularly timely, as QI is becoming an increasingly important activity for public health departments, and as the public health field looks toward the launch of the national public health accreditation program in 2011. The goal of national public health accreditation is to improve and protect the health of the public by advancing the quality and performance of all public health departments—state, local, territorial and tribal.

The special issue highlights the major efforts in public health QI today, including several priority initiatives funded by RWJF:

  • Accreditation. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is supporting PHAB and its efforts to launch the national public health accreditation program in 2011. In the fall of 2009, PHAB selected 30 state, local and tribal health departments to go through an 18-month beta test of the accreditation process that will inform the final accreditation program before the national launch in 2011. Through grants to ASTHO and NACCHO, RWJF is providing support to those 30 sites for their evaluation efforts throughout the beta test, and to support quality improvement in areas of opportunity identified through the beta test process.
  • The Multi-State Learning Collaborative: Lead States in Public Health Quality Improvement (MLC). The Multi-State Learning Collaborative (MLC) brings state and local health departments together with other stakeholders, including public health institutes and universities, to improve public health programs, services and the health of their communities by implementing quality improvement activities and preparing for national public health accreditation.

    Led by NNPHI, the 16 RWJF-funded MLC states have helped build the momentum for national public health accreditation and are leading the way in developing innovative tools and resources to help health departments implement quality improvement and prepare for public health accreditation. The North Carolina Roadmap to Accreditation and the Michigan Quality Improvement Handbook are among the many resources developed by the MLC states. NNPHI’s e-Catalog provides additional resources and tools about the MLC program.
  • NACCHO Accreditation Preparation and QI Demonstration Sites. With funding from RWJF and CDC, NACCHO coordinated the Accreditation Preparation and Quality Improvement (QI) Demonstration Site Project to give local health departments from across the country the opportunity to engage in quality improvement activities and start preparing for accreditation. As part of the initiative, more than 60 local health departments conducted self-assessments using the Local Health Department Operational Definition Self-Assessment Tool for Accreditation Preparation to identify areas for improvement, and then implemented QI projects to address priority areas identified by the self-assessment. The sites completed case studies detailing the outcomes of their assessments and QI work.

By creating stronger programs and services, QI and accreditation will ultimately enable local, state, tribal and territorial health departments to better protect, promote and preserve health in the communities they serve. This JPHMP issue highlights strategies and programs that support these efforts, and provide valuable insights and perspectives on the future of QI in public health.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has made this special JPHMP issue available online free of charge as a valuable resource to the public health community.