Celebrating the First Year of the Public Health National Center for Innovations at PHAB

by Jessica Solomon Fisher, MCP, and Travis Parker Lee, BS

Focus on Accreditation and Innovation addresses current issues related to the Public Health Accreditation Board’s national public health department accreditation program, and the Public Health National Center for Innovations. This series highlights the experiences and perspectives of accredited health departments and explores topics related to the Standards and Measures, research and evaluation findings, and the latest innovations in public health practice.

The Public Health National Center for Innovations (PHNCI) is a division of the Public Health Accreditation Board, seeking to foster the alignment and spread of innovations in public health. As we celebrate our first anniversary, we are reflecting back on our work during the last year and looking ahead to the future.

Our first year. We spent time building our operations and programming to engage with the field. We have taken on the body of work related to the foundational public health services (FPHS); supported a learning community comprised of Ohio, Oregon, and Washington as they work on statewide efforts to implement the systems transformations required to provide the FPHS and ensure that all residents have equitable access to public health; hosted a webinar series highlighting public health and healthcare integration, the FPHS, and health equity; and developed resources to help health departments understand the alignment of national initiatives, the connection between accreditation and the foundational capabilities. We also spoke at more than one dozen state and national conferences, enjoying the opportunity to engage directly with the field!

2017 and beyond. As we worked to develop our programming and identity, “innovation” seemed to be a common buzz word. As with any buzz word, it can quickly lose meaning, especially when there are many varying definitions. For PHNCI, we envision innovation in public health such that governmental public health departments can advance their practice, decrease inequities, and improve the health and well-being of the communities they serve. Innovations of the caliber that PHNCI is interested in understanding and fostering are those that move health departments outside of their traditional comfort zones. Collectively, these innovations, when clearly understood, will transform public health practice.  But what does that really mean? To answer that question, we held a think tank this fall that included public health experts but, notably, also included innovation experts from other sectors. As a result of the think tank, we are drafting a definition of public health innovation and associated characteristics, so that it is clearly understood. Stay tuned for the definition, and a related grant opportunity, in early 2017.

Jessica Solomon Fisher, MCP,

Jessica Solomon Fisher, MCP, is the Chief Innovations Officer for the Public Health National Center for Innovations (PHNCI) at the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), leading efforts to align and foster innovation in public health practice. Previously, she served as a Senior Advisor of Public Health Programs for the National Association of County and City Health Officials and in various other capacities at NACCHO during a 13-year tenure. She received her Master of Community Planning degree from the University of Maryland at College Park. [Full bio]


Travis Parker Lee, BS,

Travis Parker Lee, BS, is the Program Specialist for the Public Health National Center for Innovations (PHNCI) at the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), contributing to efforts to align and foster innovation in public health practice. Previously, he served as a Program Specialist for PHAB for six years. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Health Sciences with a concentration in Public Health Education from James Madison University. [Full bio]