Three Ways to use Community Health Data

We do Population Health Consulting.

We've helped large and small health systems and community organizations better understand the causes, conditions and solutions to population health issues.

If you’ve completed a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) in the last three years, you’ve probably been faced with the question ‘Now what can I do with all this data?’ You have spend months collecting, analyzing and collaborating on data, but now that the CHNA is complete, there isn’t much use for it, right?

Luckily, that doesn’t have to be the case. Increasingly, we see health systems and community collaboratives are eager to use population health data for a variety of purposes in the years after the CHNA is completed. This is great; it increases the value of the data, and improves the return on investment in the CHNA process.

Here are three things we’ve seen organizations continue using the data collected for their Community Health Needs Assessment:

Community Benefit Implementation Strategies

Part of the reason CHNAs exist is to inform community benefit planning and program implementation. The data in your CHNA is a valuable tool for focusing community benefit giving as well as rallying stakeholders around common interventions and programs to accelerate momentum. The most successful health system are able to use the specific metrics identified in the CHNA to provide an initial framework and focus for implementation strategy work.

A frame like well-being or equity can be particularly helpful in providing context for implementation strategies. One easy way to get started is to use population health data from your CHNA to prioritize need; you can identify communities which are most likely to benefit from interventions and resources.  If your data exists as the neighborhood or tract level, this can be a valuable hot-spotting tool for prioritization.

Organizational Strategic Planning

Community health data can and should inform organizational strategic planning. Many of our customers find their CHNA data is a great tool to compare and contrast how hospitals or regions are performing against clinical and community objectives.  For example, if a health system identifies equity as a key clinical care objective, your CHNA data is a valuable tool to understanding equity issues that are upstream causes of downstream inequalities in care. 

Another way to use the population health data from your CHNA is to examine differences among different hospitals or service areas. Most data from CHNAs can be reanalyzed to provide a useful roadmap for focusing organizational resources, by showing a service area or regional breakdown of important indicators.

Setting goals and evaluating progress

As you begin to move towards implementing programs and interventions to address community health needs, you will want to evaluate progress towards your objectives.  Population health data from your CHNA can be a great opportunity to set baselines from which you can measure growth and progress. If your CHNA included a benchmark analysis you are already most of the way there to picking realistic benchmarks.

Once you have targets and a baseline, you can measure progress with relatively less effort by sourcing new data for the same indicators. This will give you a change over time which is invaluable in understanding where progress is being made, and at if the rate of change is fast enough to meet future targets.

If any of these approaches to getting long term value out of CHNA data is interesting, we’ve delivered each of these outcomes for clients. Schedule a quick introduction phone call to learn more, or send us an inquiry.