At Community Health Solutions we believe that when it comes to community health needs assessment (CHNA), strategy is everything.  Community data and web-based dashboards can get you started, but if you don’t have the right strategic approach for engaging your community in collaborative action, important opportunities for impact can be lost, and the investment in data can be wasted.  That’s why we encourage organizations to think strategically about CHNA from the very beginning of the process.  Community Health Solutions can help by providing strategy support at each stage of the process.

CHNA scoping refers to front-end strategic thinking that is vitally important for designing a CHNA strategy that will spark collaborative action for health improvement while advancing the missions of the collaborating organizations.  We support strategic scoping by listening carefully to the strategic objectives of the organizations involved in the CHNA process.   Key questions that can help clarify strategic objectives include:

  1. Why are we conducting (or supporting) a CHNA process?
  2. How are we defining the scope of the CHNA in terms of geography, populations, and topics?
  3. How do we envision using the CHNA results?
  4. Who should collaborate in developing the CHNA study, and how might they be engaged?
  5. Who should collaborate in developing CHNA action plans, and how might they be engaged?
  6. How should the CHNA process support our strategic mission and goals for community health improvement?

We listen carefully to the answers to these and related questions, and use this information to help design a responsive CHNA process including the CHNA study and action planning.

The CHNA study design should be customized to address the objectives identified in the strategic scoping phase.   We typically recommend that CHNA studies include a strategic combination of quantitative community indicatorsqualitative community insights, and analysis of community health assets.  Although we have extensive capabilities for developing both quantitative and qualitative data, we are also happy to utilize data that may already be available from existing community studies and dashboards.  Whether the analytics are produce by us or other sources, we combine the results into a streamlined community report that presents the results in in a series of tables and maps with appropriate narrative.  We can also deliver the results in an online community data portal, or as part of a more comprehensive Action Learning Network.

CHNA action planning (sometimes called CHNA implementation planning) refers to the process of developing community action plans in response to the CHNA study results.  Key questions to be addressed as part of action planning include:

  • What are the key community health issues identified in the CHNA study?
  • Who should collaborate in action planning, and how should they be engaged?
  • What types of community health improvement strategies should be implemented, and how can we assure that they are effectively designed?
  • What kinds of community capacity building will be needed to implement the community health improvement strategies, and what is the best way to provide this support?
  • How will we evaluate the performance of each strategy?
  • What types of organizational structures should we use to monitor progress on each strategy?

Community Health Solutions provides strategic advice and design support to help answer these and other questions related to action planning.

Almost all community strategies require some type of capacity building to assure that all partners are ready and able to execute as intended.  Community Health Solutions supports capacity building by assessing readiness, defining capacity building needs, delivering capacity building supports, and providing ongoing performance support.  We also provide support for design and execution of community action strategies, with a particular focus on measuring the community value of initiatives.  Choose a link to learn more about our capabilities in community capacity building and community value analysis. 

A CHNA process should ideally serve multiple stakeholders within the community, including community residents, public health agencies, health care organizations, health grantmakers, community service providers, and more.   Community Health Solutions is well positioned to facilitate collaborative CHNA projects in which multiple stakeholders work together to design and produce a CHNA that delivers value to the community and each participating partner.  In these situations we listen carefully to the intentions of community stakeholders to facilitate multi-stakeholder collaboration.  We then work closely with the collaborating partners to design a CHNA process that meets their collective needs.  Our Action Learning Supports and Community Data Portals  can be helpful assets for supporting collaborative CHNA development.

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