The Public Health Accreditation Board, a not-for-profit that provides accreditation to public health
departments in an effort to improve quality and performance, has issued updated standards (PDF)
that clarify how health departments can gain accreditation.
Accreditation focuses on a set of 10 so-called “essential public health services” that include activities such as environmental public health, maternal and child health, and public health emergency preparedness.
A public health department needs to provide at least two examples of how its information technology
supports its public health functions. Those can include a scanning system to preserve records or a grant management system. It must also describe, as part of the documentation process, how information would be communicated in the case of a technology disruption.
The updated standards, which provide more information about what kind of documentation departments need for accreditation, goes into effect in July. They also clarify the wording of the requirements, how many examples are needed for each measure, and the time frame for each measure. One example of a measure would be how the department presents information to the public, such as through information technology.
While some public health departments offer services for substance abuse and mental health and other activities that are not part of the 10 services, the board does not look at those activities during the accreditation process.
The board was formed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
. It released the first set of accreditation standards and measures in 2011. Public health departments for states, local municipalities and tribal nations can voluntarily seek accreditation. Follow Jaimy Lee on Twitter: @MHjlee