Step 1: Reflect and Strategize

Purpose

Community health improvement is an ongoing process. Before beginning a new assessment cycle, reflect on your previous community health assessment (CHA) to identify what elements worked well, areas for process improvement and whether your implementation strategies had their desired impact.

Key Components

Reflect on the previous assessment
Reassemble your CHA team to think through the previous CHA process. Strategic questions to consider include:

Get feedback on the previous assessment
Reporting back to external stakeholders can flow naturally into collaboratively planning the next CHA. Communication should include:

Gather feedback from external and internal stakeholders from across the hospital or health care system to get their impressions of the previous CHA process.

Review the data sources
A thorough review of how data were collected and used in previous CHAs can include the following considerations:

Establish the assessment infrastructure
Building on existing infrastructures can help ensure that the internal resources and supports are in place to set the stage for a successful CHA process. A strong CHA foundation generally includes these key components:

Obtain leadership support
CHA developers should engage hospital leaders at the initiation of the assessment and communicate with them regularly throughout the process. Hospital board members or trustees can be strong supporters and may be able to leverage their organizations’ internal resources to support the CHA process.

Organizational leaders and trustees can:

Build the staff team
An appropriately staffed team keeps the CHA process in motion. This team should include individuals from any relevant administrative departments as well as front-line staff who are experienced in community services and/or who have significant ties to community groups.

The internal staff team should provide:

Identify and obtain resources
The size of the budget and the nature of financial and in-kind resources will vary with the scope of each assessment. Construct a budget and develop a plan for securing needed resources.

Plan for the following resource needs:

If your assessment takes place by way of a community collaborative, look to your assessment advisory committee to contribute to funding and in-kind support. These stakeholders have an interest in the assessment results—to fulfill organizational or grant requirements or to inform their own organizations’ planning — and may be willing to support the process.