Best Practices for Addressing Your Community Health Needs Assessment

The intent of the community health needs assessment (CHNA) mandate is to compel hospitals to take a collaborative approach to addressing the health needs of their communities.  Based on the findings of the CHNA, the hospitals must create and deploy an implementation plan, referred to as a community health improvement plan (CHIP), to address each identified need.

The CHNA process requires key tasks in order to meet the terms of the mandate:

  • Organize a CHNA work group that includes key community representatives.1
  • Conduct a qualitative analysis.
  • Complete a quantitative analysis.
  • Identify and prioritize key community health needs.
  • Determine responses to identified needs.
  • Craft a collaborative implementation plan.
  • Gain board approval for the CHNA and the implementation plan.
  • Publicly post the CHNA and CHIP on the hospital Web site.

From the initiation of the work group to final board approval, the process requires in-depth planning, analysis, and execution.  Community members must play an active role in the process, both in work group participation and partnership in achieving the implementation plan.

The qualitative analysis is externally focused to uncover the perceptions of residents, local organizations, and key leaders.  This can be accomplished through a combination of town-hall-style meetings, panel discussions, and written or telephone surveys.  As part of the quantitative analysis, hospitals must thoroughly collect and analyze data from a variety of sources, including healthcare market databases and local, regional, and national population and community health databases.  The analytics should go beyond a traditional market analysis to include an understanding of demand for all resources considered to be under the comprehensive community “health” umbrella.

Such statistics may include:

  • Use of public transportation.
  • Number of child care facilities.
  • Rates of childhood immunizations.
  • Access to grocery stores.
  • Prevalence of single parenting.
  • Rates of homelessness.

The data-driven assessment of comprehensive community needs informs the development of a CHIP, which outlines and prioritizes the key community health initiatives to be collaboratively pursued over the next 3 years.  Because CHIP implementation responsibility is distributed among collaborating organizations, hospitals serve not just as providers of care, but as organizers of care efforts intended to improve overall health inside and outside the walls of hospitals – a new perspective on the pursuit of mission-driven healthcare.

If you’d like to learn how to maximize your investment in CHNA now, read the Executive Briefing available on our Web site.


1The legislation refers to these representatives as “persons who represent the broad interests of the communities served.” Source: Internal Revenue Service Notice 2011-52.

This entry was posted in Affordable Care Act, Healthcare Reform, Legislative & Regulatory Issues and tagged , , by Sue Anderson. Bookmark the permalink.

About Sue Anderson

Since joining the firm in 2004, Sue has focused on strategic planning, with a particular interest in cardiovascular (CV) services. She leads ECG’s CV Services Affinity Group, which is devoted to promoting the firm’s thought leadership in the field of cardiac services. Sue spearheaded ECG’s CV governance and leadership survey initiative with Thomson Reuters and led the development of "Strategies for Superior Cardiovascular Service Line Performance," a book published by HealthLeaders Media. She has extensive experience in programmatic development, CV service line strategic planning, hospital/physician alignment, physician workforce planning, and financial analysis. Prior to joining ECG, Sue worked for Arthur Andersen LLP in its healthcare litigation consulting practice. She holds a master of business administration degree from the UCLA Anderson School of Management and bachelor’s degrees in English and finance from the University of Richmond.

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