CHNAs Hold Key to Improving Community Health

April 3, 2019




By Haley Fretes, Public Relations Intern at WellFlorida Council

Community Health Needs Assessments (or CHNAs) are essential tools for those tasked with developing a health improvement plan for the community. A well-crafted CHNA provides a community with a snapshot of “where they are,” which is a crucial first step in determining the vision of “where they need to be” in terms of the health of its residents and operation and performance of its health systems.

“You need to know where the mountain is and how high it is before you can climb it,” said Jeff Feller, chief executive officer at WellFlorida Council. “Community Health Needs Assessments provide communities with the insights they need to begin to develop the responses necessary for improving health factors and health outcomes.” 

Needs assessment in health and social care is the process of systematically gathering information required to bring about change that is beneficial to a population (Alachua County Health Needs Assessment, 2010). It typically assesses the population’s health status, incorporates the needs and priorities of the population, highlights areas of unmet need and provides a clear set of objectives to work towards meeting those needs.

Health needs assessments can help us identify and remedy:

  • Unmet need: people are not receiving services from which they could benefit.
  • Ineffective care: people are receiving treatment or care that does not benefit them.
  • Inefficient care: people are getting services they need at unnecessarily high cost. Resources could be released to meet other needs.
  • Inappropriate care: people are getting services they need but not deriving the greatest possible benefit from them.

Hospital administrators, county health departments, federally qualified health centers, and other large health or healthcare organizations can use the CHNA report as a call to action, engaging community members through public awareness messages, creating programs and policies that work and collaborating with other organizations to bring about positive change.

“Quite often, these CHNAs are the first step in what is called Community Health Improvement Planning (CHIP) where diverse communities come together, using their needs assessment to create a collective vision for action to address the most pressing health issues,” said Feller.

The Affordable Care Act requires all nonprofit hospitals to complete a CHNA process at least once every three years and to adopt an implementation strategy to meet the community health needs identified through the CHNA (Internal Revenue Service, 2019).  

For nearly five decades, WellFlorida Council has been conducting and producing professional and objective Community Health Needs Assessments customized to meet each client’s purposes. By employing a range of tools and approaches, including strategic focus groups, WellFlorida’s needs assessments are thoroughly researched and reliable.

WellFlorida has conducted CHNAs for groups both large and small — from single counties to statewide projects focusing on a single disease or population. Data in assessments typically includes demographic, socioeconomic and health status information that is used to identify areas where targeted interventions and policy changes have the most significant impact.

As a member of the North Florida Health Councils Consortium, WellFlorida is partnering with other Florida health councils to do Community Health Needs Assessments. The Consortium’s primary service area spans over 45 counties and includes Northwest Florida Health Council, Big Bend Health Council, Inc., Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida, Health Council of East Central Florida, Inc. and WellFlorida Council, Inc. Together these local health councils aim to provide solutions for their clients and meet the health needs to help overcome the most pressing health-related issues of their communities.  

If you think your organization, cause or community could benefit from a Community Health Needs Assessment, contact Lindsey Redding at or by phone at (352) 313-6500 (x110) to discuss evidence based approaches to conducting needs assessments.


Alachua County Health Needs Assessment(Rep.). (2010, March). Retrieved March 18, 2019, from WellFlorida Council website:

Internal Revenue Service. (n.d.). Community Health Needs Assessment for Charitable Hospital Organizations – Section 501(r)(3). Retrieved March 18, 2019, from

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