Accreditation Spurs Accountability and Systems Improvements Across Washington County Public Health Division
By Erin Jolly, MPH
Washington County Public Health Division in Hillsboro, Oregon, achieved national accreditation through PHAB in March 2017. The groundwork we put in place for accreditation continues to strengthen and improve our Division.
In preparation for accreditation, Washington County Public Health Division (WCPH) developed four public health systems workgroups responsible for implementing strategies to achieve organization-wide objectives. These workgroups include a leadership team champion, management team members and other staff from across program areas. The workgroups are responsible for implementing strategic plan priority areas, tracking progress, and reporting out to the management group. These groups have made a huge impact on accountability across the Division. As a result of the leadership support and engagement from a variety of program staff, we have developed a culture where each program takes responsibility for important systems issues. These include communication, workforce development, quality improvement, equity, ethics and community partnerships. Prior to accreditation and to the formation of these groups, many of these organizational priorities were not fully implemented, and if they were, implementation was inconsistent across the Division.
Using the PHAB Standards and Measures as a guidance document for our organizational development and specifically assessing our Division against the measures to identify gap areas enabled the leadership team to identify priorities and areas for improvement. This resulted in realistic strategic plan priorities and clearly identified organizational goals that aligned with accreditation expectations. As a result, the strategic plan is a useful document that we frequently reference to help guide our Division.
Specifically, we are proud of the sustainability of these systems. There was concern that some changes would be put in place to meet accreditation measures and would fade over time. Instead, these improvements have been sustained and continue to evolve or have been modified to be more sustainable as we learn about the best ways to ensure continuous improvement across our Division.
This process has also resulted in more cross-program collaboration, less siloed programs, and increased cohesiveness as a Division. The management team meets regularly to address the strategic priorities and has developed more of a team culture through these workgroups and the accreditation process.
Overall, the accreditation process has improved accountability and helped us develop systems in a meaningful way that involves staff and community engagement, data-driven approaches and consistent policies and planning.
Washington County Public Health Division in Hillsboro, Oregon, was awarded national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board on March 14, 2017.
About the author: Erin Jolly, MPH, is Senior Program Coordinator at Washington County Public Health Division in Hillsboro, Oregon. Contact Erin at 503-846-4965, or [email protected].
Other major benefits gained as a result of going through the accreditation process:
Increased culture of quality improvement; staff engaged in quality improvement initiatives
Increased focus on workforce development
Strategic community partnerships as the result of the CHIP and other community initiatives
More consistent use and understanding of data across program areas
More consistent application of principles related to equity and ethics