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Using Community Health Assessment to Determine Needs

Community paramedicine programs can be most effective after dedicating time to understand the unique needs of the patient population, the gaps that exist in the local health system, and the ways a program can address these concerns.

Programs often target specific patient populations, such as patients with chronic conditions, and can benefit from performing or referencing a community health assessment, also known as a gap assessment. Not-for-profit hospitals must perform a community health needs assessment (CHNA) every three years and accredited local health departments must perform a community health assessment and develop a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) every five years. Programs can reference these resources to determine the conditions that disproportionately impact people in their community. Once a program understands the characteristics of the intended patient population, they can develop care plans and protocols tailored to meet those needs.

Local organizations or agencies that serve vulnerable populations may also be able to provide insight into gaps in the care continuum that the program may be suited to address. These local organizations can inform the program about the services already being offered to the target population, which can reduce duplication of efforts.

Community needs may change and require different services as the program progresses. Program leaders should keep this in mind, periodically assess the gaps in care for their patient population, and adjust their services to meet new or changing needs.

Resources to Learn More

Community Health Needs Assessment
Offers a community health needs assessment (CHNA) toolkit to assist rural communities seeking to develop a CHNA. Includes a series of steps over a 6-month period and helpful documents to complete the needs assessment. Identifies state and community organizations that may be contacted to facilitate the CHNA process.
Organization(s): National Center for Rural Health Works

Community Paramedic Toolkit: Step 3 - Assess Community Needs
Describes the importance of performing or referencing a community needs assessment when developing a community paramedicine program. Outlines how to conduct a community health assessment specifically for community paramedicine program purposes.
Author(s): Montera, A., Montera, C., Songer, P., & Greene, M.
Organization(s): Idaho Bureau of EMS and Preparedness
Date: 5/2019