If you’ve been following our series on the revised public health essential services, then you may have read our previous article discussing how the EPHS fit in with other public health frameworks. One of the frameworks we discussed, was the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) accreditation standard. While that article overviews the history of PHAB, the focus of this article will be to delve a bit more deeply into any effect the revision of the 10 EPHS might have on PHAB accreditation.

According to PHAB, “PHAB’s initial accreditation assesses a health department’s capacity to carry out the ten Essential Public Health Services; manage an effective health department; and, maintain strong and effective communications with the governing entity.” As you can see, the 10 Essential Services are central to PHAB accreditation, so any revision to those essential services impacts the accreditation process.

What about the 10 EPHS is different?

Our earlier article in this series delves more deeply into the revision of the essential services, but here is a summary of changes that were highlighted during the September 2020 live reveal of the revised EPHS by the task force who conducted the revision:

  • A shift in focus:
    • The old essential services focused on: Public health solving community problems
    • The new essential services focus on: Engaging the community in a partnership and co-creating solutions
  • Being a little more actionable and practical for practice, through an increased focus on:
    • The language of creating, championing, and implementing policies and laws
    • Building a strong infrastructure for public health
  • The centering of equity to consider the health of every member of every community

How does the revision affect those already accredited for PHAB?

Health departments who have already obtained PHAB accreditation can rest easy knowing their efforts towards accreditation have not lost their meaning.

During the live reveal of the revised essential services, a question was asked about what single message the panelists would like to give about the 2020 refresh of the essential services. Joe Finkbonner, RPH, MHA, former Executive Director of the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board responded by emphasizing the careful review and thoughtful discussion that went into the revision process and that each member of the task force brought their roles to the table when discussing the revisions. According to Finkbonner, there was a drive to make meaningful changes while ensuring the original essential services did not lose their meaning.

Speaking about public health agencies who have attained PHAB accreditation as well as states who have incorporated the essential services into legislation, Finkbonner said it was very important to the task force that the revisions, “… still translate towards those efforts.”

Are the PHAB accreditation standards changing?

The PHAB accreditation standards are set to undergo a revision, but that revision is in line with the revisions in the essential services and the two will continue to be intertwined; for health departments, work towards fulfilling one set of standards fulfills the other.

While PHAB accreditation standards have centered around the essential public health services from their inception, this is not the first time the standards have been revised. The first revision from the 2011 Version 1.0 was the 2013 move to Version 1.5 and there are plans to revise the standards again to Version 2.0, which is expected to be released in early 2021.

According to the PHAB website, Version 2.0 “will inform both initial accreditation and the second round of reaccreditation.” So, while the standards are undergoing another revision, the work that accredited health departments have already done is still meaningful to the future revision.

Version 2.0 will incorporate the principles and goals of the revised EPHS. During the live release webinar of the revised essential services, Paul Kuehnert, DNP, RN, FAAN, President and CEO of PHAB, shared, “The key concepts and clarifications of the refreshed essential services framework, especially the centrality of health equity, will underpin our Version 2.0.” In fact, you can read about the incorporation of health equity on the PHAB website announcement about Version 2.0.


In summary, the revised essential services are central to the PHAB framework and will continue to inform PHAB standards, even through the upcoming revision to Version 2.0 of the PHAB accreditation standards.

As Kuehnert shared during the live release webinar for the revised essential services, “To say that we at PHAB value this framework is really an understatement. That’s because, just over 10 years ago, when PHAB was launched, we based our entire accreditation standards and measures on the essential services framework. Given how widely that they were used then and are still used in both governmental and non-governmental public health, it just made sense and it still does.”

“To say that we at PHAB value this framework is really an understatement. That’s because, just over 10 years ago, when PHAB was launched, we based our entire accreditation standards and measures on the essential services framework.” — Paul Kuehnert, DNP, RN, FAAN, President & CEO, PHAB

Additional Resources

You can access the recording of the live reveal of the revised essential services as well as a toolkit created for public health departments on the Public Health National Center for Innovations (PHNCI) website here.

You may also be interested in our other articles in this series (Links will be included as each article is published):