The fundamental purpose of public health is defined by three core functions: assessment, policy development and assurance. Community health assessments (CHAs) and improvement plans (CHIPs)provide information for problem and asset identification and policy formulation, implementation, and evaluation.
Community Health Assessment (CHA)
In 2015, the Grant County Health District published a Community Health Assessment Report. This 73 page report is a collection of information that shows the health of the residents of Grant County. In addition to the main report, there is a summary indicators page, and city specific factsheets (available for Moses Lake, Ephrata, Quincy, Mattawa, and combined Grand Coulee and Electric City).
What is a CHA?
A Community Health Assessment (CHA), also referred to as a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), is a systematic examination of the health status indicators for a given population that is used to identify key problems and assets in a community. The ultimate goal of a community health assessment is to develop strategies to address the community’s health needs and identified issues. A CHA answers the following questions:
- What are the health problems in a community?
- Why do health issues exist in a community?
- What factors create or determine the health problems?
- What resources are available to address the health problems?
- What are the health needs of the community from a population-based perspective?
Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP)
In the spring of 2015, GCHD assessment staff held meetings around Grant County to develop the work areas for the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP). We were pleased to see consensus around the county on the areas chosen for the plan. The areas identified were:
- Build community engagement (including engaging stakeholders and cultural literacy)
- Assure effective and common public communications (including effective messages, effective outreach, and cultural literacy)
- Promote and provide community educational activities (including prevention education, health education and health literacy)
After the areas were identified, a draft plan with goals and objectives was written. We asked the community to provide input on the plan through a survey. The next step is to form work groups on each of the 3 areas and to create measures to monitor our progress.
What is a CHIP?
A Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) is a long-term, systematic effort to address public health problems on the basis of the results of community health assessment activities and the community health improvement process. This plan is used by health and other governmental education and human service agencies, in collaboration with community partners, to set priorities and coordinate and target resources. A CHIP is critical for developing policies and defining actions to target efforts that promote health. It should define the vision for the health of the community through a collaborative process and should address the gamut of strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities that exist in the community to improve the health status of that community.A plan is typically updated every three to five years. Common elements of a CHIP include:
- Prepare and plan
- Engage the community
- Develop a goal or vision
- Conduct community health assessment(s)
- Prioritize health issues
- Develop community health improvement plan
- Implement community health improvement plan
- Evaluate and monitor outcomes
Why complete an assessment and improvement plan?
A community health assessment gives organizations comprehensive information about the community’s current health status, needs, and issues. This information can help develop a community health improvement plan by justifying how and where resources should be allocated to best meet community needs.
- Improved organizational and community coordination and collaboration
- Increased knowledge about public health and the interconnectedness of activities
- Strengthened partnerships within state and local public health systems
- Identified strengths and weaknesses to address in quality improvement efforts
- Baselines on performance to use in preparing for accreditation
- Benchmarks for public health practice improvements