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Public Health Standards

Public Health Standards are measures that evaluate the performance of public health systems. In 2009, the National Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) developed a set of standards and measures document that provides guidance for public health departments preparing for Accreditation. This document assists health department as they select documentation for each measure. PHAB’s public health department accreditation standards address the array of public health functions set forth in the ten Essential Public Health Services. Public health department accreditation standards deal with a range of core public health programs and activities. Two versions of the PHAB Standards and measures have been released. Version 1.0 has been adopted by health departments who submitted their application to PHAB before June 2, 2014. Version 1.5 is to be adopted by health departments who submit their application to PHAB after this date.

The National Public Health Performance Standards

The National Public Health Performance Standards (NPHPS) provide a framework to assess capacity and performance of public health systems and public health governing bodies. This framework can help identify areas for system improvement, strengthen state and local partnerships, and ensure that a strong system is in place for addressing public health issues.

Benefits of Implementation

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The NPHPS is a valuable tool in identifying areas for system improvement, strengthening state and local partnerships, and ensuring that a strong system is in place for responding effectively to day-to-day public health issues and public health emergencies. NPHPS instrument users at all levels report numerous benefits, including:

  • Improvement in organizational and community communication and collaboration
  • Usefulness in educating participants about public health and the interconnectedness of activities
  • Strengthening of the diverse network of partners
  • Identification of strengths and weaknesses
  • Provides a benchmark for public health practice improvements

The Public Health System

Public health systems are commonly defined as “all public, private, and voluntary entities that contribute to the delivery of essential public health services within a jurisdiction.” This concept ensures that all entities’ contributions to the health and well being of the community or state are recognized in assessing the provision of public health services.

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The public health system includes

  • Public health agencies at state and local levels
  • Healthcare providers
  • Public safety agencies
  • Human service and charity organizations
  • Education and youth development organizations
  • Recreation and arts-related organizations
  • Economic and philanthropic organizations
  • Environmental agencies and organizations 

Concepts Applied in the NPHPS

Four concepts helped to frame and inform the NPHPS: 1) The 10 Essential Public Health Services; 2) A focus on the overall public health system; 3) A description of an optimal level of performance rather than minimum expectations; 4) An intent to support a process of continuous quality improvement.

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