Healthcare News & Insights

Use community health needs assessments to improve patients’ outcomes

All nonprofit hospitals must perform a community health needs assessment, per regulations from the IRS. However, rather than just meeting the bare minimum requirements for compliance, hospitals can use their assessments as a starting point for taking real steps to improve the population health of their patient mix. 

An article from Hospitals & Health Networks465076121 discusses how important it is for hospitals to create comprehensive community health needs assessments – especially in an era of value-based payments.

These assessments should be seen as an opportunities for hospitals to create new partnerships and programs to help their patients.

Keys to success

To help hospitals use these assessments to their advantage, the Health Research & Educational Trust has come up with five ways for decision-makers to get the most out of their community health assessments, as stated in the article:

  1. Solicit feedback from patients and community members throughout the process. Having patient representatives involved in creating a community health needs assessment can help hospital executives get an idea of what population health concerns are most important to the people they serve.
  2. Partner with other hospitals, community organizations and public health departments. Regardless of the resources it has, it’s tough for one hospital to tackle large societal issues alone. That’s why it’s helpful to collaborate with other hospitals who are in the same boat, along with other organizations that have a stake in boosting population health. Not only does having help make it easier to implement new programs, it also means any initiatives have the potential to make a bigger impact on patient outcomes.
  3. Encourage involvement from all levels of the hospital. Community health needs assessments are more effective if they’re put into practice throughout the entire hospital structure, including every area from the hospital’s board to the patient-family advisory council. Each department of the hospital should also be involved in the assessment’s creation and play an active role in any new initiatives that result.
  4. Integrate any improvement strategies into your hospital’s general strategy for care delivery. Hospitals can’t just state the issues that patients are facing. They need to come up with ways to improve them that fit in with their care delivery. It’s one thing to say that diabetic patients need better control over their conditions, but it’s much more effective if a hospital integrates education about improved diabetes management into its treatment strategy for patients.
  5. Make sure leadership is engaged in the process. A hospital’s culture can’t change to prioritize population health if its leaders aren’t on board. From nurse supervisors to the chairperson of the board, support from leaders is key to making changes designed to promote population health.

By keeping these ideas in mind when creating their community health needs assessments, hospitals can ensure they’re moving in the right direction for delivering high-quality care that keeps patients’ healthy, which will be crucial as reimbursement shifts more toward prioritizing value.

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