State Health Department Accreditation Technical Assistance: A Focused Strategic Thinking Approach

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Abstract

Public health departments provide many services critical to maintaining healthy populations, including communicable disease control, immunizations, primary care, and emergency preparedness. The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) has established an accreditation process for public health departments that measures departmental performance against nationally recognized, evidence-based standards. The goal is to recognize departmental strengths and weaknesses, strengthen partnerships, and promote the prioritization of organizational goals to improve community health. Achieving accreditation from the PHAB requires health departments to develop Community Health Assessment (CHA), Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), and Strategic Plan processes. The intent of the CHA is to determine contributing factors for poor health outcomes and assess available resources. Building on the CHA, the CHIP establishes health priorities and improvement strategies, including measurable health outcomes and recommended policy changes. Finally, Strategic Plan defines the health department’s strategic priorities, goals, and implementation plans. A number of methodologies are available to develop these plans, but many prove to be complicated and confusing, leading to suboptimal performance. The Alabama-Mississippi Public Health Training Center assisted the Alabama Department of Public Health with the creation of their plans by developing the Focused Strategic Thinking Approach, which supplied simple and effective processes to develop useful and successful plans. These processes provide useful guides for other public health departments developing their prerequisites as they pursue PHAB accreditation.

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