How Hospital Associations Can Help Members With CHNAs

How Hospital Associations Can Help Members With CHNAs

Connecting Your Members with the Right CHNA Partner 

By Lee Ann Lambdin and Megan Reeves

A Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) identifies a community’s most significant health issues and needs through systematic data collection and analysis. Every three years, non-profit hospitals are required to submit a CHNA report and adopt an implementation plan to address the identified needs so they can maintain their 501(c)(3) tax-exempt or “charitable” status.

As 2022 quickly approaches, many of your member hospitals will be due to complete their new CHNA. In this post, we’ll discuss the ways you can help your members prepare for and navigate the CHNA process, including:

  • Ensuring your members are clear on what they must do to stay federally compliant
  • Finding ways to promote the real value that can be gained from a CHNA (beyond compliance)
  • Offering resources to members who need help executing their CHNA 

The CHNA process may take several months and resources to complete, so now is the time for your member hospitals to be thinking about their 2022 CHNAs. Keep reading to learn how you can help.

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What a Comprehensive CHNA Should Include: What Your Members Must Submit to Stay Compliant

First and foremost, your member hospitals must be clear on what is required of them to maintain their 501(c)(3) tax-exempt or “charitable” status. Below is a summary of the IRS requirements. More detail can be found here, on the IRS website. 

  • Clearly define the community the hospital serves
  • Assess the health needs of the community and identify significant issues
  • Solicit and take into account input received from persons who represent the broad interests of that community
  • Review existing healthcare facilities and resources within the community which are available to respond to the health needs of the population
  • Measure of the impact of any actions taken to address the significant health needs identified in the hospital’s prior CHNA(s)
  • Document the CHNA in a written report that the hospital facility adopts
  • Make the CHNA report widely available to the public

Consider sharing this link and the summarized list above with your member hospitals, particularly your not-for-profit members. Prompt them to start making plans now for how they will deliver upon these requirements in 2022.

The Real Value of a CHNA: It’s Not Only About Compliance 

While required by law for non-profit hospitals, many for-profit hospitals also periodically complete a CHNA. Why? Because it provides a unique perspective, outside the hospital walls, on the overall health of the community they serve.

By executing a CHNA, your member hospitals will:

  • Understand the demographics of their population, which will help guide future strategic planning goals
  • Examine the psychographics and spending habits of their community so they can develop more specific and appropriate marketing promotions 
  • Identify socio-economic factors within their community that play a role in determining overall health and wellbeing
  • Learn the values and viewpoints of residents in their service area and what unmet health needs they have
  • Collaborate with community organizations and stakeholders to prioritize solutions for addressing top health concerns
  • Integrate a Strategic Market Analysis and align their CHNA with their strategic plan
  • Meet IRS requirements (for non-profit hospitals)

The detailed insights gleaned from a well-executed Community Health Needs Assessment can significantly benefit your member hospitals. These insights can be the spark that ignites a whole community to improve health issues while providing hospitals with the information they need to address those issues and better serve the needs of their population.

The Takeaway: Ensure Your Members are Equipped to Be Successful

When done correctly, a CHNA is an invaluable resource for identifying health issues and can be the catalyst for purposeful community and individual health improvement efforts.   

While a CHNA is required by law for every 501(c)(3) hospital, it is important to remember that it is only done once every three years. That means, the resources to complete a CHNA may not be readily available in-house. The question becomes, is it worth it for your members to allocate staff resources to complete their CHNA internally, or should they keep their primary focus on patient care and strategic growth? If the answer is the latter (and it likely is!), then it’s advisable they reach out to a CHNA partner for help with execution.

Over the past several years, Stratasan’s Strategic Advisory Services team has completed more than 75 CHNAs. You can learn more about our five-stage CHNA process here. Being able to connect your members with an objective partner, like Stratasan, who understands healthcare and the CHNA process and can present healthcare data in a meaningful way (not just an accounting firm formatting data on an Excel spreadsheet) is the key.

If you have a member hospital concerned about their ability to conduct their CHNA internally, encourage them to contact Stratasan for more information about how we can help them create a CHNA that can benefit their organization and their community for years to come. You can also reach out to me, Lee Ann Lambdin, directly for more information at 866-628-5051 x 706. 

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Article by Lee Ann Lambdin, SVP of Healthcare Strategy for Stratasan & Megan Reeves, VP of Strategic Partnerships for Stratasan

Connect with Stratasan on LinkedIn or follow Stratasan on Twitter and Facebook.

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