Pathways Recognition Program

PHAB’s vision is a high-performing governmental public health system that supports all people living their healthiest lives. To foster performance improvement among Tribal, territorial, and local health departments, PHAB is developing a Pathways Recognition Program set to launch in 2022. Pathways will serve as another option for encouraging and recognizing eligible health departments as they progress in their performance improvement journeys. Pathways may be ideal for health departments that are not yet ready to apply for accreditation, but still want to enhance performance improvement and other capabilities.

What is Pathways?

Pathways is a recognition program for local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments designed to support performance improvement efforts, strengthen infrastructure, and facilitate public health system transformation. Pathways can facilitate accreditation readiness for eligible health departments intending to use the Pathways as a step toward a future accreditation application. While Pathways recognition is different from PHAB accreditation, it is a viable alternative for health departments not yet ready to pursue full accreditation but still want to enhance performance improvement and other capabilities and be recognized for it.

Program Structure

The Pathways Recognition Program was developed by PHAB, with input and collaboration from public health partners such as the CDC, NACCHO, NIHB, ASTHO, NALBOH, APHA and others. Pathways is designed to include a subset of measures from the forthcoming PHAB Standards & Measures Version 2022 and include those designated as Foundational Capability measures. The requirements will be divided into two tracks, and eligible health departments may choose to complete one or both tracks in whichever order they choose.

  • The first track includes a subset of measures within Domains 1-7 of Version 2022. These relate to assessment and surveillance, investigation, preparedness, communications, community engagement, health improvement planning, enforcement, and assuring access to health.
  • The second track includes a subset of measures within Domains 8-10 of Version 2022. These relate to workforce, evaluation, research, quality improvement, and organizational infrastructure.

Standards & Measures in the Pathways Recognition Program will be a subset of those for full accreditation. To provide feedback on the draft S&M for v2022, visit the Version 2022 Vetting webpage.

Learn More About Pathways

The Pathways Recognition Program is a formal response by PHAB to address the field’s aspirations for a recognition process that meets the needs of eligible health departments not yet ready or positioned to pursue PHAB accreditation. By engaging in this program, eligible health departments will be assessed on their demonstration of a subset of measures from the forthcoming Version 2022 PHAB Accreditation Standards & Measures.

The purpose of the PHAB Pathways Recognition Program is to:

  1. Support performance improvement efforts, strengthen infrastructure, and facilitate public health system transformation, including state-based improvement efforts,
  2. Serve as a performance improvement milestone for local, Tribal, and territorial health departments not yet ready to apply for PHAB accreditation, and
  3. Facilitate accreditation readiness for eligible health departments intending to use the Pathways as a step toward a future accreditation application.

Once recognized, health departments that choose to pursue accreditation can then work toward demonstrating conformity with accreditation measures that are not reviewed in the Pathways Recognition Program. Participation in the Pathways Recognition Program will not be a prerequisite of full accreditation – direct pursuit of full PHAB accreditation will always remain an option.

PHAB’s exploration and development of the Pathways Recognition Program is a step toward addressing feedback from health departments across the country, including lessons learned and research about small health departments that have achieved accreditation. PHAB wants to hear from health department stakeholders about what program design elements will provide the most value to health departments that are not yet ready to apply for accreditation but may want to engage in a recognition program like Pathways.

There are many benefits of Pathways recognition.

An alternative milestone:

  • Objective review of performance by an external entity on a subset of national standards
  • Identification of opportunities for improvement and facilitation of ongoing efforts to address those opportunities
  • Recognition for what the health department is required to do
  • A more feasible goal for small and under-resourced health departments to achieve
  • May engage and/or incentivize health departments that otherwise would not have considered full accreditation

A step toward accreditation:

  • Taking a ‘smaller bite’
  • Knowledge and skill-building
  • Confidence-boosting/earlier feedback
  • Tangible progress toward a longer-term goal (accreditation) to help maintain motivation and engagement
  • A smaller initial investment of time and funds as compared to full accreditation

Resources

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The Pathways program development is informed by a Joint Task Force of PHAB and NACCHO Boards, staff from the National Indian Health Board, ASTHO and NACCHO, a Tribal Workgroup and webinar of Tribal practitioners and learnings from the PHAB accreditation process. Development of Pathways is further supported by the CDC’s Center for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support.