PHAB Launches New Accreditation Program for Vital Records/Health Statistics

by Kaye Bender, PhD, RN, FAAN

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.

PHAB accreditation standards measures

Did you ever wonder about how the system for ensuring that you have a valid, confidential birth certificate works? When you read about how many people have died from a certain type of cancer, did you ever think about where those statistics originate? The statewide systems for Vital Records and Health Statistics are crucial to many aspects of our lives and to the ongoing monitoring of our health status.

For the past few years, PHAB has been working to develop accreditation standards and measures for Vital Records/Health Statistics (VRHS) Units in the 57 jurisdictional areas identified by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) within the National Vital Statistics Collaborative Program (VSCP). This includes the jurisdictions where statewide vital records are collected from the 50 states, District of Columbia, New York City, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands. PHAB has partnered with the National Association for Public Health Statistics and Information Systems (NAPHSIS), CDC’s Center for State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial Support (CSTLTS), NCHS, and several states to develop the standards and measures and complete both an alpha and beta test to ascertain their applicability in the field. The revised version of the Standards and Measures for National Accreditation of State/Territorial Vital Records/Health Statistics Units was open for public comment in the fall of 2018.

The functions of statewide vital records and health statistics units are related to, but very different from, state health department accreditation and therefore merit their own accreditation module unique and different from the general public health functions of health departments. On November 28, 2018, the PHAB Board of Directors approved the final standards and measures and process guide for this new accreditation program. A press release announcing the launch of the program was issued on February 14, 2019. PHAB will begin accepting applications for the new Vital Records and Health Statistics Accreditation Program on April 1, 2019. Additional information can be found on PHAB’s website.

Kaye Bender, PhD, RN, FAAN, is the President and CEO of the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB), which administers the national, voluntary accreditation program for state, Tribal, local, and territorial health departments. Prior to joining PHAB in 2009, she worked in both local and state public health practice in the Mississippi State Department of Health, including serving as Deputy State Health Officer for 12 years. Prior to that, she served as Dean of the University of Mississippi Medical School of Nursing and Associate Vice Chancellor for Nursing for six years. She was inducted as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing in 2000.