Public Health and Continuous Quality Improvement
Defining public health in simple terms is difficult even for the discipline’s professionals, which explains why the public is not likely to understand the role public health plays in their lives until a disaster occurs. The broad definition is public health exists to promote physical and mental health, and prevent disease, injury, and disability of the people in the United States. Public health is credited in helping control infectious diseases, improving the health of mothers and babies, improved motor-vehicle safety, and the widespread use of vaccinations, to name but a few of its achievements (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1999). Given the intense responsibilities of public health, performance management and continuous quality improvement (CQI) are essential and ethical practices of protecting public safety and saving lives in times of crisis.
The Essential Components of Public Health Services
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in conjunction with national, state, and local public health departments, have outlined the essential public health services in an effort to support public health agencies in their efforts of CQI implementation. According to the CDC, the broad label to services are; assessment, policy development, and assurance (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). Within these categories are other components such as diagnose and investigate, mobilize community partnerships, and assure a compentent workforce. The scope of duties of public health departments, large or small, require standards and measures to ensure public safety. The CDC in collaboration with the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation (RWJF), support a national voluntary accreditation credential, much like universitites and hospital systems employ to demonstrate competence and quality of services. One of the components to achieving accreditation is a commitment to and follow-through of a quality improvement process (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011). Although there are different names to the methods of collecting information for a thorough CQI plan, most employ the same general principles to achieve accreditation and improve public health practices. The newly formed Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) is responsible for reviewing and approving applications for accreditation, which they strongly encourage as beneficial to advance the quality and performance of public health.
Benefits of Accreditation and Methods of Quality Improvement
The goals of CQI are congruent with the precepts of accreditation, making them ideal components of any public health system. Accoring to the PHAB, the benefits of accreditation are:
• Performance feedback and quality improvement from the accreditation body
• Accountability and credibility that demonstrates effective allocation of resources
• Improved staff morale and visibility because of the recognition of excellence that...