Community Health Needs Assessment: Potential for Population Health Improvement.
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Derived from various health care policies and initiatives, the concept of population health has been newly adopted by health care and medicine. In particular, it has been suggested that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provision that requires nonprofit hospitals to conduct a community health needs assessment (CHNA) and implement strategies to address health priorities has the potential to improve population health. A mixed methods study design was used to examine the potential for population health improvements to occur through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)-mandated nonprofit hospital CHNA and planning processes. Methods involved a 2-phased approach composed of (1) content analysis of 95 CHNA/implementation strategies reports and (2) interviews with key informants, consultants, and community stakeholders involved in CHNA and planning processes. Although this is a great opportunity for the nonprofit hospital assessment and planning processes to influence population health outcomes, the findings from the first 3-year assessment and planning cycle (2011-2013) suggest this is unlikely. As nonprofit hospitals begin the second 3-year assessment and planning cycle, this article offers recommendations to increase the potential for nonprofit hospitals to improve population health. These recommendations include clarifying the purpose of IRS CHNA regulations, engaging community stakeholders in collaborative assessment and planning, understanding disease etiology and identifying and addressing broader determinants of health, adopting a public health assessment and planning model, and emphasizing population health improvement. (Population Health Management 2016;19:178-186).