Important Note: This article is not meant to provide a comprehensive overview of the PHAB reaccreditation process and requirements. It is meant to provide you with a basic understanding rather than acting as a replacement for the 84-page Guide to National Public Health Department Reaccreditation.
If you’ve just been accredited or are starting to look ahead toward PHAB reaccreditation, this blog is a great resource to get you in the proper mind-frame.
Intent of Reaccreditation
PHAB Reaccreditation places a heavy focus on the concept of continuous improvement – both in the quality of departmental services and population health outcomes.
While PHAB does not hold individual health departments responsible for improving population-level outcomes, the ongoing maintenance of accreditation via reaccreditation and annual reporting is expected to contribute to better health outcomes.
Differences from Initial Accreditation
Based on the above-mentioned guide, we’ve identified three main differences between the initial accreditation and reaccreditation processes:
- Whereas initial accreditation demonstrates that the health department has developed internal capacities to provide the ten Essential Public Health Services (CDC), reaccreditation establishes the use of those capacities to improve and advance programs, policies, and performance.
- While the steps of both processes are similar (online orientation, application and review, payment, document submission, site visit, etc.), the turn-around time for reaccreditation is much shorter. After acceptance of the initial accreditation application, health departments have 12 months to submit documentation. However, in reaccreditation, departments have only 8 weeks to submit documentation. Therefore, departments are expected to have all documents prepared prior to applying.
- Some types of documents required for reaccreditation will be the same as initial accreditation. However, reaccreditation requires more narrative descriptions based on a self-study model – rather than just providing specific examples. This requires a significant amount of preliminary work, involving the health department considering how it can improve, advance, and further its work in meeting the accreditation standards and measures.
Preparing for Reaccreditation
Reaccreditation is designed to be useful to the health department and provide an opportunity for continuous improvement. This is why reaccreditation (and its documents) are based on a self-study model. The point is to engage in the self-study prior to applying for reaccreditation, so that the department engages in continuous quality improvement.
Additionally, departments only have 8 weeks to submit documentation after gaining access to the system in e-PHAB. This is why departments are expected to prepare documentation prior to applying for reaccreditation.
The following documents are required:
- Narratives describing the health department’s current processes, procedures, activities, etc.;
- Narratives describing examples;
- Examples (e.g., examples of communication, use of the department’s logo, etc.); and
- Complete adopted items (e.g., the community health assessment, various plans, protocols, procedures, reports, templates, and a brand strategy).
There are four main steps in the reaccreditation process, each with a set of sub-steps. These are:
- Application – On the first calendar day of the quarter in which the department was accredited (5 years after initial accreditation) the accredited department will be notified via e-PHAB that the reaccreditation application is available. The application process will be similar to initial accreditation.
- Extensions – The application must be received by the last day of the calendar quarter in which the department received initial accreditation. However, extensions may be granted for a legitimate extenuating circumstance.
- Payment of fee – The fee must be paid by the time the department submits its documentation.
- Document submission and health outcomes reporting
- Document submission – the department must submit required documentation no later than 8 weeks after gaining access to e-PHAB. Documents include descriptive narratives, narratives of examples, specific examples, and documentation of adopted items.
- Health outcomes reporting – Departments will select 5-10 population health outcomes to measure and report to PHAB with the reaccreditation material.
- Review and Decision – Trained reviewers will review the documents and make a decision regarding accredited status.
- Pre-site visit review – Reviewers will determine whether each standard or measure has been met.
- Pre-site response – The health department will have an opportunity to submit clarifying information for measures that have not been met.
- Second review – Reviewers will review supplementary information.
- Site visit – Reviewers will ask questions, virtually, with required staff.
- Reaccreditation report – Based on previous steps, reviewers will score each measure as “Met” or “Not Met” and produce a report with comments.
- Reaccreditation determination – The reaccreditation report is finalized, the committee will determine whether the department is accredited or not accredited, and the health department can access the report via e-PHAB.
PHAB Reaccreditation Guide:
Again, this blog is not a comprehensive overview of PHAB reaccreditation. You should read the Guide to National Public Health Department Reaccreditation for all the necessary details.
PHAB Reaccreditation Webinar:
Check out our recent webinar Creating Alignment to Streamline and Maintain PHAB Accreditation to see how a performance management system can help you maintain accredited status.
Looking for a performance management system to fulfill initial accreditation or reaccreditation requirements? Check out our blog Looking Ahead: Maintaining PHAB Public Health Accreditation with Clear Impact Scorecard.