Nonprofit hospitals are expected to benefit the communities they serve in order to maintain their tax-exempt status. The Affordable Care Act requires that nonprofit hospitals publicly demonstrate this benefit by conducting a community health needs assessment (CHNA) every three years to measure community needs and report progress toward addressing previously identified needs.

Case Study

The Polis Center, in collaboration with the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, helped to complete a CHNA for Parkview which included defining health profiles of each of the counties it serves; analyzing various data to better understand the health needs and socioeconomic condition of the area; obtaining community input on the health issues of greatest concern; and considering relevant community and hospital assets.


Supporting the Use of Data to Inform Goals

Parkview Health is a not-for-profit health system in northeast Indiana that consists of nine hospitals serving about 800,000 people across seven counties. It has been conducting CHNAs for over a decade.  The process helps Parkview focus on what the community believes is most needed and keeps the issues in the public eye. Parkview is also committed to cultivating partners both inside and outside the community—partners who can help them both identify and solve problems. Collaboration is critical to the organization’s long-term success because the partners become invested in the assessment process of identifying the communities’ priorities and can help close the gaps on those issues.

Parkview wanted to assess the effectiveness, feasibility, and communities’ perception of their current community health childhood obesity, maternal child health, and mental health programs before they refine their selected set of intervention. Through the Indiana Partnership for Healthy Communities (IN-HPC)— a collaboration between the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health (FSPH), The Polis Center, and with support from the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (I-CTSI, The Polis Center specifically assisted Parkview in identifying community health priorities in each of the counties it serves and developed associated CHNA reports for submission to the federal government.  As part of the assessment process, the IN-PHC team used a variety of state and national sources to create a preliminary list of health needs in the counties that Parkview Health serves. Then, it gathered more detailed data about the top community health concerns via aphone survey and organizing focus groups with people who live in the communities.

By analyzing hard data and incorporating community input, the team identified 13 major health issues in the region, including cancer, diabetes, the cost of healthcare, mental health, and sexually transmitted diseases. Next, it applied a method for ranking them that took into account the size of the problem, the seriousness of the problem, and the effectiveness of potential interventions.

The IN-PHC team presented its findings to executives from each of the Parkview Health hospitals, who then voted on which health issues to prioritize. Obesity was easily their first choice, followed by mental health, maternal and child health, drug abuse, and diabetes. Each hospital in the Parkview Health system also selected its own top priorities. The Polis Center then created an Implementation Strategy Resource Guide to assist Parkview in its subsequent selection of implementation strategies.  In a subsequent phase of work, we have helped Parkview assess their chosen community health interventions.

We have also conducted CHNAs for Community Health Network in Indianapolis, IN.

To learn more, contact Karen Comer.