I’m Daniel Carter. I wanted to take a few minutes today to share some ideas with those of you who may be working on your community health needs assessments. Now, these are ideas that I have developed over a number of years working with all types of organizations including public health departments, FQHCs, and healthcare systems, so I wanted to share some of those thoughts with you today.
The first is be thoughtful in your data collection process. I know that there are hundreds if not thousands of data points out there for you to collect. And I also know that there’s a lot of pressure on you to develop different ways of collecting primary data. But be thoughtful in what you’re doing. Think first of all about the resources you have available to you as an organization. If you’re a small organization with fewer resources, you’re probably not going to be able to use the same efforts in data collection that others can. But at the same time, you might be able to enlist the help of others to collect that data, and that leads me to my second tip.
Work with other stakeholders. In this day and age when so many organizations need to complete a community health assessment, it makes sense that you’re working with others be that other healthcare systems, or what I think is most appropriate healthcare systems working with public health organizations. Because I find that community health needs assessments are really the intersection of where health care and public health come together.
When you’re creating your CHNA, make sure that you’re also choosing priorities that are going to make a difference. Sometimes it’s so easy to rush through the process, and just come up with priorities that are easy to implement or maybe even the temptation is to develop priorities that we’re really already working on. I would encourage you to choose priorities that will make a difference and move the needle, and to improve the health of the community that you serve.
Another way of doing that is to make sure that your CHNA and particularly the implementation plan links to your organization strategic plan. If you’re working on a CHNA as a public health organization in efforts to become nationally accredited, you know that you have to do this, but others don’t always do this and in fact I found a lot that don’t. The reason I think it’s so important is because then it’s not just about one department in your organization, but it’s about the entire organization coming together to work on not only the strategic plan and those initiatives they’re involved in your strategy, but also working on your community health assessment
But overall, I think the last tip is maybe the most important. Keep it relevant but also keep it simple. Remember that this is a process that you’re going to be doing every two to three years. So if you can’t accomplish at all today at this time, you’ll be able to start again in just a few years. So make sure that what you’re collecting, what you’re implementing is relevant to your community that you serve, but also make sure that it’s simple so that it can be done again and so that you can share the output with others.
I hope these thoughts have been helpful. And as always, if I can do anything to answer questions or help in any way, please feel free to reach out.