Updates on the Development of PHAB Standards & Measures Version 2022

by Britt Lang, MPH

The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) is working closely with the field of public health to develop a new version of its accreditation standards and measures. The updated Standards & Measures Version 2022 will use the 10 Essential Public Health Services (EPHS) as its framework and will highlight which measures correspond to the cross-cutting skills and capacities listed in the Foundational Public Health Capabilities (FPHS).

Version 2022 seeks to reflect current aspirations in the field, focus on meeting the intent of the measures rather than on documenting it, promote accountability, and clarify requirements.

To ensure that the new version aligns with current practice and understanding in public health, PHAB sought feedback directly from health departments and convened numerous Think Tanks, Expert Panels, and Workgroups to prepare and inform Version 2022. Additionally, PHAB commissioned papers, conducted environmental scans, and analyzed literature. In this post, we highlight three recent efforts to gather data to inform revisions of the Standards & Measures, focusing on healthy aging; administration, management, and governance; and public health and health care. Summaries of discussions related to those topics, as well as other related materials (such as an overview of how health departments were assessed in those measures), are available on the PHAB website.

Healthy Aging

Healthy aging is a recent topic addressed by a PHAB Think Tank. Engaging 31 experts in the field of aging over the span of two days, the Think Tank sought to:

  • discuss best and promising practices related to healthy aging and governmental public health department accreditation;
  • review the current health department accreditation standards and measures where healthy aging is a natural fit;
  • discuss any pertinent changes in public health practice related to healthy aging programs, interventions, and strategies and/or support for health departments work in this area;
  • and recommend potential revisions in the accreditation standards and measures as PHAB prepares updates for its accreditation standards and measures for Version 2022.

Think Tank participants described healthy aging as the process of maintaining and promoting physical, mental (cognitive and emotional), spiritual, and social (including meaningful social engagement) well-being and function as people age. The Think Tank stressed the importance of Age-Friendly Public Health Systems (AFPHS), in which healthy aging is both an adaptive process in response to the challenges that can occur as we age and a proactive process to reduce the likelihood, intensity, or impact of future challenges.

Administration, Management and Governance of Health Departments

PHAB interviewed an expert panel of reviewers on the topic of administration, management, and governance of health departments. Using a framework consistent with ASTHO’s Performance Dashboard, Council on Accreditation standards, FPHS, and Public Health 3.0, reviewers defined administration and management as the capacity to lead internal and external stakeholders to consensus, with movement to action. They defined governance as a health department’s support and engagement of its governing entity in maintaining and strengthening the public health infrastructure for the jurisdiction served. With this context, changes recommended by the reviewers included a new measure to address potential bias and inequities within organizational policies and a new measure about health departments’ information/data governance process for developing, maintaining, and managing information systems as well as maintaining data integrity.

Public Health and Healthcare

Public health and healthcare were also recently addressed by an expert panel of reviewers. Domain 7 of the Standards & Measures focuses on a health department’s role in ensuring an effective system that enables both equitable access to individual services and care needed to promote health. This domain does not assume that the health department is responsible for providing individual services, but rather, that the health department plays an important role in ensuring their population’s equitable access to systems that support the delivery of those services and thus meet the collective needs of many. The proposed changes reflect the three areas of health department responsibility in this space: assessment, development, and improvement. These changes include working across multiple sectors to assure access to appropriate health care and social services.

New information regarding Version 2022 will be added as it becomes available, so sign up for the PHAB e-newsletter to be the first to know about upcoming changes.

Author Profile

Britt Lang, MPH
Britt Lang, MPH, is the Research Specialist at the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). In that role, they conduct internal and external research and evaluation activities related to PHAB operations. Prior to joining PHAB, Britt was the Senior Research Coordinator for the Division of Family Planning at the University of Pennsylvania, conducting research on contraception, miscarriage management, and abortion care. They hold a Master’s in Public Health from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master’s in English from Temple University, and an undergraduate degree in English from The College of New Jersey.