What is Public Health Accreditation?
The voluntary national accreditation program for public health departments was launched by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) in 2011. The foundation of public health accreditation is performance improvement (PI) by requiring public health departments to identify and address gaps in their provision and assurance of the 10 Essential Public Health Services to the populations they serve.
In 2014, the U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) designated the Department of Public Health at Irwin Army Community Hospital (Fort Riley, Kansas) as a Public Health Accreditation Demonstration Site. In November 2018, this department became the first military site to achieve national public health accreditation.
What is Army Public Health Accreditation?
Public health accreditation provides a means and a framework to continuously improve the quality of public health services provided by installation departments of public health across the Army. In July 2018, the MEDCOM authorized the Army Public Health Performance Improvement/Accreditation Initiative directing 28 Army installation departments of public health (DPH; formerly known as installation preventive medicine departments) to improve performance in alignment with nationally-recognized standards and pursue public health accreditation. In this multi-year, phased initiative, these departments of public health will apply for public health accreditation through the PHAB to ensure quality and effectiveness, signal that Army Public Health delivers services on part with civilian counterparts, and to fill a gap in Army health-related accreditation designation.
This initiative can help drive healthy behaviors and healthy environments to improve the health, safety and readiness of Soldiers and their families, other beneficiaries and the Army community.
What are the Benefits of Public Health Accreditation?
Since September 2011, PHAB has recognized health departments that meet national standards that ensure these departments provide essential public health services in their communities. Based on PHAB annual evaluation data in a final report published in 2017, accredited health departments report that accreditation helps them:
- Stimulate quality and performance improvement opportunities
- Increase their accountability to community members, stakeholders, and policymakers
- Improve accountability to external stakeholders
- Better identify their strengths and weaknesses
- Strengthen the workforce
For more information on the benefits of accreditation and the results of continued independent evaluation of accredited health departments, visit https://www.phaboard.org/why-become-accredited/
How can Installation Departments of Public Health Receive Support to Pursue Army Public Health Accreditation?
The MEDCOM Public Health Service Line with support from the Army Public Health Center provides subject matter expertise and consultation to Army installation departments of public health via teleconference, email, and staff assistance visits. The Army Public Health Performance Improvement and Accreditation Toolkit is available and accessible via a CAC-enabled extranet site at: https://eaphc.amedd.army.mil/PHPIT/SitePages/Home.aspx.
The toolkit enables Army installation departments of public health to focus on specific PI activities to meet nationally-recognized performance standards and prepare for public health accreditation. The toolkit is an evolving resource that will be updated with new information and tools.
For more information, please contact the Public Health Service Line and APHC Public Health PI/A Team at email@example.com
"Public health accreditation is our insurance policy to ensure Army public health is meeting standards of quality and performance as the MHS moves to a decentralized execution concept." ~ Mr. John Resta, MEDCOM DCS-PH, Dir. APHC
"Defense Health Agency (DHA) plans to use PH accreditation as an objective framework to determine consensus for Tri-Service public health." ~ COL Mark Ireland, Public Health Division, DHA
"We started as an Army preventive medicine department and transformed into an Army department of public health. Accreditation standards required us to rethink how… to make a greater health impact on the Fort Riley community, and how to integrate multiple disciplines while collaborating with organizations outside the walls of our installation." ~ Dr. Donald W. Robinson, COL, FS, Ft. Riley Director of Public Health (Accredited)
Disclaimer: The mention of any non-federal entity in this document should not be construed or interpreted, in any manner, as official federal endorsement of that non-federal entity.