Health needs assessment is a systematic process for determining the health needs of a particular community or population, and then using the results to spur community change. A best practice in the field of public health, Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) has gained momentum in recent years with passage of the Affordable Care Act which requires nonprofit hospital organizations to undertake CHNA.
We believe CHNA should be a catalyst for community engagement, prioritization, and action – not a box to check.
We have ways to help. We’ve created a tool and have curated some of our favorite resources to help you get started and take action with your community needs assessment.
Need support? Here’s a step-by-step tutorial.
Learn some tips and tricks! 4 Things We Love About Our New CHNA Tool
Not sure where to start? Don’t let that stop you. These resources are a great place to learn about and begin the CHNA process.
- ACHI Community Health Assessment Toolkit
- Step-by-step clickable guide to assessment, with a focus on incorporating community engagement
- CDC Community Health Improvement Navigator
- Outline of key concepts in partner-centered approach to assessment
- ASTHO CHNA Primer
- CHNA guide geared toward local public health departments, with focus on engaging hospital systems
- IRS Requirements
- A comprehensive outline of IRS CHNA requirements for 501(c)(3) hospitals built into the Affordable Care Act
- Guidelines for Conducting a Community Health Needs Assessment
- 100-page linear framework and approach to CHNA
- Community Toolbox: Assessing Community Needs and Resources
- A detailed breakdown of strategies to assessing needs and resources
An important step in the process is assessing the needs of your community. Here on Community Commons, our new indicator report is an engaging way to explore needs and – importantly – use the visualizations to spark dialogue in your community. Our list of indicators will continue to grow over time so keep checking for updates. We recommend you create a collection of indicators you’d like to use in your assessment. Here’s how.
So you’ve done a CHNA. Now what? CHNAs with coordinated actions behind them have the power to create change in the real world. Five steps for taking action on your CHNA:
- PLAN: Think and act strategically. Be smart about this. Size up your assets and opportunities. Use learnings from your CHNA to think strategically about what comes next. Set some goals. Identify steps toward them and who can help.
- ENGAGE: Achieve more by working together. Gain context and insights. Build capacity and momentum. Bring your community and stakeholders along for the ride. Even have them steer!
- FOCUS: Invest in what matters. Make the most of what you have. Time, money, and capacity are always tight. Focus on the populations, places, and things that matter to maximize the value of your efforts.
- IMPLEMENT: Do the darn things! There’s no shortage of pathways to improve community health. Tried and true. Evidence based. New and creative. Pick some strategies with your stakeholders – ones that focus on what matters – and then try them out; you can always adjust as you learn.
- EVALUATE : Check yourself. You’ve acted on your CHNA because you want to improve community health. Are your efforts adding up? Are you creating real change? Is that change sustained? Through ongoing assessment you’ll keep your finger on the pulse of community and measure your impact.
SHARE YOUR STORY
Has the CHNA process resulted in transformative change in your community? We’d love to hear about it. Collections can be published to the member gallery!