Accreditation: A Lever for Transformation Health Practice

Professor pointing to high-crime area

National, voluntary public health accreditation efforts are reshaping health departments, helping them improve performance and become more focused, mission-driven organizations.

The Issue:

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other key stakeholders from public health and academia, have led the national movement for rapid adoption of accreditation and quality improvement (QI) processes in public health.

This RWJF author highlights the Foundation’s role.

Key Findings Show Over the last 10 years, RWJF has:

  • Acted as a neutral convener and commissioned research papers to explore the feasibility of national accreditation.
  • Collaborated with the CDC to support the Exploring Accreditation project beginning in 2005 with five state grantees and later investing $15 million in the Multistate Learning Collaborative to share results and spread QI in public health.
  • Supported the establishment of the independent Public Health Accreditation Board in 2007 to oversee and guide the ongoing process of voluntary accreditation.
  • In 2012, supported the launch by RTI International of the web-based Public Health Quality Improvement Exchange,, that created an online community for practitioners to share their experiences with public health QI initiatives.

Looking to the future, “our hope is that . . . people and policy-makers understand the value and role their health department plays in conducting high-quality practices that improve, protect, and promote the health of all community members.”  -Pamela Russo and Paul Kuehnert