Increased jurisdiction from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Affordable Care Act, and from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding community health improvement and preventative care measures has increased the awareness, usage, and value of Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNAs). CHNAs are undertaken by hospitals, healthcare entities, and other community organizations to assess and improve the overall health of the community. The CDC and IRS partnered on this CHNA requirement to improve population health, healthcare quality and coordination of care, and get more value out of healthcare spending across the board. Failure to comply to these CHNA requirements will result in a $50,000 fine for a hospital or healthcare organization.

CHNA Data Collection

RMS is Your CHNA Partner

This huge undertaking creates challenges for resources, especially among small hospitals and healthcare organizations, especially in rural areas. It becomes critical for organizations undergoing a CHNA to identify who they should be working with and how early on. Many hospitals and organizations partner with market research firms and consultants to assist them with specific components of the CHNA process in order to streamline efforts and ultimately save the time and the money that it would have cost to complete all components of the CHNA in-house.One of those core components of a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) is data collection.

Here are the four areas of a CHNA which involve data collection:

  • (1) Community statistical profile and market area definition
  • (2) Quantitative survey among community residents
  • (3) Qualitative research with the healthcare community
  • (4) Qualitative research with community leaders and stakeholders

Obtaining data through both primary and secondary means is an essential piece of a CHNA because the numbers serve as a baseline and measurement tool to track improvements in health status over the years within a community. Some secondary data may be available to provide your organization with health indicators, behavioral risk factors, youth risk factors and county health rankings. These data sets should be available for most communities and should be incorporated into your CHNA. Often, secondary data is not a feasible option for smaller hospitals or public health agencies, particularly in rural areas. Therefore primary data may need to be collected using SMART BRFSS or a similar health indicator study. Through the assistance of a market research firm, you’d be able to obtain community data to geographies as specific as Census Tracts.

Primary data collected for community residents for CHNAs can be collected through a variety of methods – surveys, focus groups, town hall meetings, and/or direct engagement of community residents in participatory action research efforts. However, this primary data collection can be costly and/or time consuming for a healthcare organization and it is recommended that it be undertaken through the collaborative efforts of partner CHNA institutions. A market research firm like RMS can coordinate all of your data collection efforts for your community surveys, in-depth interviews (IDIs) with community leaders, and even focus groups with healthcare stakeholders. Having a professional market research consultant work with your team on your CHNA will ensure the process runs properly and smoothly and will allow your healthcare organization to focus on other priorities specified in the CHNA simultaneously.

The overall goal of a CHNA is to benefit the community by putting forth a strong and actionable community health improvement plan (CHIP). If you are interested in working with RMS Healthcare on your next Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) or would like to receive a proposal for assistance with data collection efforts contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at or by calling 1-866-567-5422.