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The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) is collaborating more than ever to help people lead healthy lives in healthy communities while working to achieve accreditation from the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB). The national accreditation program, jointly supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, sets standards against which the nation’s more than 3,000  public health departments can continuously improve the quality of their services and performance. To become accredited, a health department must undergo a rigorous, multi-faceted peer-reviewed assessment process to ensure it meets or exceeds a set of standards and measures. Accreditation became available to all state, local, and territorial public health departments in 2012 and the first departments were accredited in 2013.

MDPH filed its PHAB accreditation application on November 3, 2014. Three prerequisite documents that needed to be submitted to PHAB during the application process included the State Health Assessment, State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP), and the Strategic Plan. Then, following the training of MDPH staff, on June 4, 2015 the accreditation document collection process began.  MDPH has up to one year to assemble the documentation required for accreditation. Once documentation is submitted, a PHAB Site Visitor Team is assigned who will review MDPH’s documentation and review MDPH’s operations against the national accreditation standards and measures. Following the MDPH site visit the Site Visit Report will be finalized and submitted to the PHAB Board for review. The PHAB Board will make the final decision regarding MDPH accreditation status and then the MDPH will be informed in writing of the PHAB Board decision.

Achieving PHAB accreditation and MDPH’s efforts to successfully support, protect and promote public health would not be possible without our many partners. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health benefits greatly from its fifteen-member Public Health Council. We value the leadership and support that we receive from the members of the Massachusetts Legislature. We are grateful for collaborations with other state and federal agencies, and with the 351 local Massachusetts boards of health. Our network of more than 700 community-based health and human service providers and thousands more dedicated public health professionals help us realize our public health goals across the Commonwealth.

More information about DPH accreditation is provided in a recorded webinar (slides pdf format of Accreditation Webinar Slides
rtf format of                             Accreditation Webinar Slides                ).

DPH Strategic Plan

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH)  revised its strategic plan pdf format of DPH Strategic Plan 2014
doc format of                             DPH Strategic Plan 2014                file size 2MB. This plan builds on work completed by MDPH in updating its strategic plan for 2014 – 2016 in accordance with the overarching Strategic Plan for the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s strategic plan:

  • shapes and guides what MDPH does and why,
  • sets forth the MDPH’s vision, mission, guiding principles and values,
  • determines strategic priorities, and
  • describes measurable and time-framed goals and objectives.

The strategic plan is linked with the State Health Assessment and State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) pdf format of State Health Improvement Plan
file size 2MB docx format of                             State Health Improvement Plan                which were submitted to PHAB at the time of application. Information gathered during the development of the strategic plan has also been incorporated into ongoing quality improvement efforts and is guiding the development of a department-wide performance management system.

DPH State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP)

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health developed the State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) pdf format of State Health Improvement Plan
file size 2MB docx format of                             State Health Improvement Plan                for Massachusetts. The SHIP is based on a comprehensive data analysis and has served as a blueprint for policy and program initiatives to prevent injury and disease, promote wellness and health equity, and protect state residents from health risks. The plan demonstrates how public health prevention efforts can be instrumental in achieving health care reform and emphasizes reduction of health disparities.

The SHIP identifies priorities for public health system improvement, establishes goals, SMART objectives, and sound performance measures to address key public health priorities over time. The SHIP charts a direction for health improvement efforts in Massachusetts and is organized around these seven health outcome domains:

  1. Active Living, Healthy Eating, and Tobacco-free Living
  2. Chronic Disease Prevention and Control
  3. Reduce Morbidity and Mortality related to Infectious Disease
  4. Substance Abuse Prevention, Intervention, Treatment and Recovery
  5. Injury, Suicide and Violence Prevention
  6. Maternal, Child, and Family Health Promotion
  7. Environmental Risk Factors and Health

Each domain includes 4-6 standards to which the Department holds itself accountable. Each standard includes a set of measures (and corresponding data) as well as the strategies that will be accomplished to achieve the standards. Additional sections of the plan include recommendations on public health infrastructure and an extensive set of updated health statistics to serve as a supplement to the 2010 State Health Assessment. This collaborative process led to the inclusion of 165 data measures spread across the 7 SHIP Domains listed above.

State Health Assessment

MDPH has been collecting and using data to inform policy makers and the public since 1842, the year the first statewide registration of vital records began. The 2010 Health of Massachusetts report compiles a wealth of data on the health of Massachusetts residents and serves as the State Health Assessment required for Public Health Accreditation. In addition, with changes in the environment and the emergence of new public health priorities, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is updating the State Health Assessment to align with these emerging health priorities.

Performance Management & Quality Improvement

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Office of Performance Management and Quality Improvement is responsible for providing leadership and coordinating department-wide initiatives that seek to continually improve the quality and performance of programs, services, and processes within the MDPH.   These initiatives include strategic planning, leadership development, quality improvement and succession planning.  The Office of Performance Management and Quality Improvement is also providing the leadership and coordination of efforts necessary to achieve National Public Health Accreditation.

More than a dozen quality improvement projects were identified during the development of the State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) pdf format of State Health Improvement Plan
file size 2MB docx format of                             State Health Improvement Plan                . Improvement teams have been identified and staff and community collaborators have rolled up their sleeves to tackle cross department opportunities for improvement.


As the science and practice of keeping the public safe and healthy changes, having a wide range of up-to-date trainings enhances the public health system's ability to improve community health. Ensuring a common language and understanding around performance management and quality improvement has been prioritized. MDPH offered, through both in-person and distance learning, technical assistance and training for quality improvement. Some examples include:

  • Identifying the processes and programs that would benefit from quality improvement methods
  • Prioritizing QI interventions
  • Facilitating QI processes
  • Training staff to use QI tools


Following is a list of helpful resources associated with Accreditation:

This information is provided by the Department of Public Health.