A community health needs assessment (CHNA) is a report that identifies the healthcare and health-related (food, housing, etc.) needs of a community’s residents. The goal of a CHNA is to systematically assess a community’s unmet needs in order to develop strategies to address them. CHNAs can be a powerful tool to create healthier communities if reporting entities are supplied strong guidance, sufficient resources and solicit input from a diversity of stakeholders.
Three types of entities have a formal, federal obligation to conduct community health needs assessments:
In many communities, these organizations work in silos, each producing an assessment unique to their organization or agency. Lack of coordination wastes resources and yields repetitive, yet incomplete, assessments. City- or county-wide assessments produced by a coalition of community stakeholders represent the “gold-standard” when it comes to comprehensively assessing a community’s needs. States can lay the foundation for this work by expanding community health need reporting requirements to include other organizations that influence health. For example, New Hampshire requires nonprofit behavioral health providers, retirement communities and nursing homes to produce CHNAs and community benefit plans, as well.
Other opportunities to improve CHNAs include: