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Public Health Memo, Coursework Example

Pages: 1

Words: 620

Coursework

Over the past decade, numerous local public health agencies have sought accreditation.  The process of accreditation, although stringent in process and consuming in time and resources, also confers numerous advantages on the health agency.  This memo will analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the accreditation process in general, and the use of performance measures specifically.  Finally, the memo will render a judgment regarding the decision to seek accreditation.

The process of accreditation is largely tied to the evaluation of numerous performance measures.  The University of North Carolina provides a number of measures tied to the process including basic functions, policies, and competence (Health Department Self-Assessment Instrument, 2006).  Although some of the performance measures are objective in nature, for example the number of personnel dedicated to immunization, other performance measures such as those measuring the implementation of policy are certainly less so (ASPA, 2010).  In spite of the differences captured by performance measures, accreditation offers a number of advantages.

Accreditation offers three main advantages to the agency of health. First, accreditation communicates a value of public health not only to the community, but also to the greater community of public health practitioners (University of North Carolina, 2010).  Once an agency acquires accreditation, it is able to communicate and leverage a higher level of commitment to public health.  This is also true among public health practitioners: An accredited agency is able to draw upon the strength of accreditation in providing new, experimental opportunities to the community it serves.  In addition to external strengths, the accreditation process also helps to build community and in the agency (University of North Carolina, 2010).  An accredited agency is able to build internal competencies and teamwork that may not be able without the accreditation.

Third, the accreditation process can serve as a driver for goal setting and change in the organization.  The accreditation process (using performance measures) is extremely thorough dealing with a number of different aspects from staffing, policy implement and community health goals .  The process also helps to identify areas where the agency currently isn’t strong or needs further improvement.  By submitting under the authority of the accreditation committee, the agency is able to use their recommendations to push for change in the organization.  The change can manifest in a number of different of areas including the updating of existing materials, upgrading of IT and technology, and the hiring of new specialists in specified areas.

Although the accreditation process offers advantages , it may not be for every agency. Indeed, agencies that have not acquired a certain level of competency (or funding streams) may not want to apply until they have reached a certain level. In addition, some agencies might not score very high on necessary performance measures; this may mean agencies should wait until necessary improvements can be made (Erwin, 2008).

Performance measures, used in the right context, are a necessary part of evaluating an agency’s effectiveness.  The problem usually arises when there are only a few performance measures used, or the performance measures used are largely subjective in nature; in these situations, performance measures may not represent a fair and comprehensive review.  Looking at the University of North Carolina’s evaluation measures, I strongly recommend the agency to seek accreditations.  Not only would it inevitably raise the profile of the agency, it would also help the agency to identify areas for improvement.

References

ASPA (2010).  Performance measures and accreditation.  Available at: http://aspanational.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/performance-measurement-and-accreditation/.

Erwin, P.C. (2010).  The performance of local health departments: a review of the literature.  Public Health Management Practice, 14(2), E9- E18.

University of North Carolina School of Public Health (2010).  Health department self assessment tool.  Available at:

University of North Carolina School of Public Health. (2010).  North Carolina local health department accreditation.  Available at: North Carolina Local Health Department Accreditation.   http://nciph.sph.unc.edu/accred/

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