At least every five years, local boards of health lead a community-wide discussion with stakeholders and residents about their community’s health needs. After identifying needs in the community, the next step is to identify objectives and strategies to address those needs. The process, Community Health Needs Assessment and Health Improvement Plan (CHNA & HIP) is a fundamental element in statewide planning. CHNA & HIP has more than a 20-year history in Iowa and represents local action to promote and protect the health of Iowans.
New federal requirements for nonprofit hospitals to conduct community health needs assessments present an opportunity for hospitals and local boards of health/local public health agencies to join forces to identify needs and craft strategies for meeting them. Working together can result in greater collaboration between hospitals and local public health departments and an initiation of new partnerships. Both groups in the health system stand to gain from the relationship. Even more important, the community benefits when data, resources, and expertise are shared to attain the common goal of a healthier community.
To integrate Iowa’s established community health needs assessment process for local boards of health with the new federal requirements for nonprofit hospitals, the Iowa Department of Public Health has developed the following position statement, which describes the department's commitment to encouraging a collaborative process, and an FAQ document about steps being taken to support this collaboration.