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Assessing Community Needs

By Lisette Hudson  
   February 13, 2018

Preparing a community health needs assessment (CHNA) is a federal requirement for not-for-profit hospitals. This article outlines recommendations to help you get organized, go through the development process, and produce an implementation plan.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires not-for-profit hospitals to conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) once every three years -- and develop an implementation plan to meet community health needs. Finalized in 2014, the requirements surrounding a CHNA are very specific.

The CHNA Development Process

Define and map your service area. To start, review patient origin information to identify the geographic area you serve based on where your patients reside.

Collect and analyze data. Assess your study area, including demographics and health status. Investigate mortality data, chronic disease categories and health behaviors. Identify minority populations and evaluate access to healthcare.

Reach out to obtain community input.. Seek feedback from leaders and groups who represent community interests. Consider state and local public health departments, members of medically underserved populations and minority populations, or even written comments received on your hospital’s most recently completed CHNA

Document and communicate results. Now it’s time to pull together and organize all the data you’ve collected for the CHNA, documenting:

  • A definition of the community you serve; your hospital’s mission, vision and values and study area demographics

  • Methodology and sources of data

  • Community input, health status of the area, collaboration with other organizations

  • A prioritized list of significant community health needs with an evaluation of the impact of any actions taken since completion of the previous CHNA

  • Description of how to provide feedback to the facility

Lastly – and important to keep in mind – small and large hospitals that are required to conduct a CHNA are now being audited. Here are a few things to keep in mind that regulators are looking for:

  • Whether your CHNA prioritizes community needs

  • Which needs your hospital will address

  • If the full CHNA report is prominently posted on your hospital website with access from your homepage

  • Documentation that your CHNA has been adopted by your hospital board

You can also learn more about CHC’s Community Health Needs Assessment and Implementation Strategy services – even download our CHNA process document -- or reach out to us. We have completed CHNAs and Implementation Plans for more than 70 hospitals across many states – from community health centers and critical access hospitals to specialty hospitals and large multi‐hospital systems. We are here to help.


VP of Planning, Community Hospital Corporation

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