The “Why” of Community Health Needs Assessments
If you spend much time in healthcare these days, you will surely hear the term Community Health Needs Assessment, or simply Community Health Assessment.
Hospitals, public health departments, community foundations and a variety of nonprofit organizations serving healthcare needs are keenly interested in better understanding the root causes of poor health, the services currently provided in their communities, the gaps in healthcare service and where their entity can best fill needs.
You may have noticed in your community that several organizations are on a mission to understand how the complex parts of the healthcare system can work together more effectively.
What you may not know is why.
First, the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has added a new IRS regulation that requires nonprofit hospitals to conduct a Community Health Needs Assessment every three years and to develop plans based on the data from those assessments.
Second, the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) asks health departments that are going through the accreditation process to participate in or lead a collaborative effort to produce a comprehensive Community Health Assessment. Once the assessment is complete, the PHAB standards require that health departments create a “community health improvement plan” with a rigorous evaluation process.
Third, best practices for today’s leading nonprofit organizations require them to be data driven. The days of using intuition and anecdotes to determine what social service needs to fill and how to fill them are past. Funders of nonprofit activity expect to see proof of the need and then see proof that the need is being met.
As all these forces converge, the great hope is that the health of communities across America benefit from the collaborations that bring the strengths of hospitals, public health departments and nonprofits organizations of all types together.
If you are interested in discussing how a Community Health Needs Assessment and related planning activities can help your organization make a greater impact, please contact Mary Coyne at (806) 670-7440 or Mary@AscentHealthConsulting.com