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Community Health Assessment re-evaluation: Your 5-month action plan

Group of colleagues re-evaluating their Community Health Assessment

As a local health department, your Community Health Assessment helps you discover your community’s story so you can better identify and achieve key improvements. If you feel you can achieve more from your CHA, then it’s time to re-examine your approach.

It’s not as difficult as it seems, and there is a roadmap: MAPP 2.0. The Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnership tool was developed by the National Association of County and City Health Officials in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Using MAPP 2.0, DataGen created a five-month action plan that you can use over the span of five months for a better CHA — no matter where you start from or what your results have been.

How to re-examine your CHA approach

Month 1: Organize for success and partnership development

Identifying the right internal and external community partners is the single most important step for a successful CHA. These are the individuals, at every level, who will champion, lead and execute your CHA projects.

Be sure to identify representative leads and liaisons across your health department and community. In addition to staff, re-examine your resources, e.g., funds, data sources and past CHA learnings, and assess these against your budget and operational expenses.

Tip: People before the process. Assemble your internal team during the first two weeks, before you identify your resources and create a top-line budget.

Month 2: Plan, mobilize and align

Planning is one of the most inspiring parts of the CHA process. You want to improve your community but may not truly know who needs the most help and how you can provide it. When you conduct the CHA, anchor your early vision with these project mobilization steps:

  • identify data from prior assessments and internal and secondary sources;
  • define and describe your community;
  • tailor your CHA;
  • create survey, communication and collaboration plans; and
  • integrate your internal and community teams.

The last step is vital to align vision across all partners. But remember, even an agreed-upon vision at this stage must be pressure tested. You’ll use months 3 and 4 to do that.

Tip: Expand your data discovery. Health equity should be the foundation of every CHA, but you may need additional social drivers of health data to achieve it. Start with what you have and consider data from well-resourced third parties.

Months 3-4: Assess the community and its story equitably

Part 1: How to review your survey and analyze results

After you tailor the CHA in month 2, you will need to distribute it and collect and analyze the community health assessment survey.

  • confirming that your assessment population is a sufficient size and representative;
  • leveraging all possible internal and external resources for survey distribution and completion; and
  • analyzing the survey results.

Analysis should include two levels: macro-level data (community health status and context) from all sources and micro-level data (individual health status) from the CHA. Your initial analysis will help you identify potential community-based interventions. Here, the word potential is key since you’ll want to look at your data with fresh eyes.

Many times, organizations that have already conducted CHAs might try to make the data fit the community-based interventions that they’ve identified in the past. Whether this is your first CHA or not, you’ll want to account for any potential bias you’re bringing to your data.

Tip: First impressions are just that. Embed a beginner’s mindset in your re-examined CHA process. This will set your health department up for success as you revisit your findings during the final assessment phase.

Part 2: Other types of data

Your CHA survey results are only one component in a larger process. To successfully identify and target community health problems, you’ll also need to collect other types of data which can be one of the hardest CHA steps.

By that, you’ll need to investigate data that is either publicly available or proprietary. Examples of this include data that shows things like:

  • SDOH-social determinants of health;
  • demographic;
  • behavior;
  • outcome; and
  • utilization information.

These are a big part of the CHA process and a major offering with DataGen’s CHA Advantage product.

Part 3: Qualitative data

On top of collecting other types of data, you’ll need to also go out into the community, build relationships and collect qualitative data.

This is a key step many organizations overlook because they’re constricted on time. It can also be overwhelming to go out into the community and create the relationships you planned on building in months one and two. Regardless of the time and stress this may cause, qualitative data helps you produce a richer, deeper understanding of the neighborhoods you serve. Plus, depending on what state you reside in, it could be a requirement for your application, e.g., New York state.

Another reason why you’ll want to make community partnerships is that it can help you detect inconsistencies or biases in your CHA data. For example, if you’ve been doing your CHA for many years without talking to community leaders, the data assumptions you’ve been pulling may be incorrect. Why?

A lot changes over a year, let alone years. Without a broader scope of what’s going on in your community, you may miss emerging trends, raising community concerns and population stressors — all of which could be represented in your data but not necessarily identified. This could lead to health initiatives that aren’t effective (and, possibly outdated).

By acknowledging the benefits of working directly with community leaders, you’ll strengthen relationships and better use resources that create meaningful changes that you can demonstrate.

Month 5: Identify key needs to formulate goals and strategies

The CHA’s goal is to identify the most significant community health needs and their causes. Your team will identify and discuss key takeaways — internally first, then with your community and partners — to collect feedback and refine your intervention goals and strategies. Re-examining the CHA at this stage involves prioritization, consensus and an evidence-based approach to intervention.

Tip: Goals versus resources. Assess your final plan against your resource inventory. Can you achieve what you want with the people, processes and funds you have in place? Have any of those variables changed since month 1?

Need help? Contact us for a stress-free CHA

By re-examining your CHA approach, you can more efficiently revisit and refine its main components: organization, partnership, visioning and assessment. This will enable you to improve your results while making a better, more targeted impact in your community.

If you’re still looking for assistance when it comes to your CHA, DataGen can help. Our CHA Advantage suite streamlines your assessment from start to finish, providing you with invaluable data and analytics all in one place. Schedule your free consultation today and see how we can level up your CHA.

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