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    Public Health Accreditation


    The division of Public Health Services (PHS) in Maryland's Department of Health (MDH) is accredited through the national Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). The Office of Population Health Improvement (OPHI) has been leading the effort for MDH since 2013, providing coordination to the state process and technical assistance to local health departments as they seek accreditation.

    What does the program do?

    What is Public Health Accreditation?

    Public health accreditation is a voluntary process that measures the performance of state, territorial, and local health departments against a national set of evidence-based public health standards. Public health accreditation improves the service, value, and accountability of public health agencies. Health departments are held accountable to meeting standards in 12 domains and over 100 measures. Accreditation is valid for five years.

    Key tenants of public health accreditation include, among other things, engaging communities to understand health data and create related community health improvement plans, implementing an agency strategic plan, understand the strengths and needs of the public health workforce, and implementing a culture of quality improvement.

    For more information on public health accreditation visit the PHAB website at www.phaboard.org.

    Public Health Accreditation in Maryland

    Maryland is considered a decentralized state by the accrediting body, meaning that each of the 24 local health departments in the state (23 counties and Baltimore City) can seek accreditation independently of MDH.  Likewise, the MDH accreditation effort does not encompass local health departments.

    Local Health Department Accreditation

    Seven counties are currently accredited in Maryland, and an additional eleven counties are pursuing accreditation. As of October 13, 2017 the following local health departments have achieved national public health accreditation:

    • Allegany County Health Department
    • Cecil County Health Department
    • Frederick County Health Department
    • Garrett County Health Department
    • Harford County Health Department
    • Wicomico County Health Department
    • Worcester County Health Department

    MDH Accreditation

    Public Health Services within MDH began accreditation in September 2014 and hosted the accrediting body for a site visit in December 2015. PHS submitted final accreditation requirements in May 2017. PHS achieved national accreditation through PHAB in June 2017.

    As part of these accreditation efforts OPHI has lead the organization of strategic planning, performance management, quality improvement, and workforce development.

    Strategic Planning
    In July 2016, PHS began a process to revise the PHS Strategic Plan, last updated in
    September 2014. The process focused on engaging all PHS units and staff in the creation of a strategic plan that was action oriented, aligned with the State Health Improvement Process, and clearly measurable in both actions and outcomes.  

    The new plan was finalized in March 2017 and encompasses three of the five SHIP vision areas as well as major operational projects around continuity of operations planning, quality improvement, and increasing access to professional development for the PHS workforce. Progress towards achieving the goals in the plan are measured and reported quarterly by PHS leadership through the new PHS performance management system.

    The PHS Strategic Plan is available here.  

    For more information on the State Health Improvement Process (SHIP), click here​.

    Performance Management
    In conjunction with the revision of the strategic plan, PHS set out to create a simple, accountable method for tracking and reporting progress of not only the strategic plan, but
    other critical projects and milestones. PHS already participates in the state-mandated Managing for Results (MFR) process through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM). This process is a performance management system that sets goals, objectives, and measures annually through the state budget process. While the measures are applicable points of relevance for PHS they are only measured and reviewed once a year.

    PHS created a new cloud-based performance management dashboard to accommodate the needs of the MFR process as well as the more immediate needs of measure strategic projects. The system utilizes a series of SmartSheets for each major PHS unit or administration that captures activities and progress of the PHS Strategic Plan and will be expanded later to include critical MFR points. PHS will produce a quarterly Strategic Plan report from this tool starting with accomplishments from the third quarter of state fiscal year 2017 (April 1 through June 30th). The reports will be available here.

    Quality Improvement
    Quality Improvement (QI) supports continuous public health process improvement. This is accomplished through training, technical assistance, project management, and customer service. OPHI supports quality improvement through deliberate and defined activities that are responsive to community needs, improve population health, and supports the objectives of public health accreditation.

    For more information on Quality Improvement in PHS, click here.

    Public Health Workforce Development
    A major component of the public health accreditation process is understanding the current capacity and needs of the public health workforce. To comply with this requirement PHS formed a Workforce Development Learning Collaborative (the Collaborative) in April 2016. Its goal was to improve the culture of learning within the PHS workforce. The Collaborative members represent each administration with PHS and various levels of employees ranging from office clerks to directors. To help reach this goal, the Collaborative created and published a framework for action in a Workforce Development Plan (the Plan). The Plan discusses the framework, assessing the training needs of employees, and offering training and learning experiences that meet those needs.

    For the PHS Workforce Development Plan, click here.
    For the Mid-Atlantic Regional Public Health Training Center analysis of the PHS workforce, click here.
    For the PHS Public Health Workforce Infograph, click here.

    Where can I learn more?

     Image: A presentation of our accreditation award at a August 2017 celebration. Pictured are the Deputy Secretary for Public Hea 
    Image: A presentation of our accreditation award at a August 2017 celebration. Pictured are the Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services and former Director of Performance Improvement and Quality Improvement Manager.

    Last updated: 2018 January 31