Community Needs Assessment

Community Needs Assessment

Health care reform is changing the manner and focus in which health care is delivered. One important component is the Community Needs Assessment (CNA). The CNA not only helps your organization offer services that meet local community needs, it is a requirement for hospitals that are required to report on community benefit.

The Oregon Office of Rural Health has nearly two decades of experience conducting community needs assessments specially tailored to meet rural and frontier needs.

The Association for Community Health Improvement and the American Hospital Association recommends using the following six-step framework when completing a community health needs assessment.

  1. Establish the Assessment Infrastructure
    1. Gather appropriate staff members who need to be involved.
    2. Invite community partners (public health, other health entities, United Way, community service organizations).
    3. Decide how the group will organize and work together.
  2. Define the Purpose and Scope
    1. Community benefit reporting requirement
    2. Improving local service and health status
    3. Determine boundaries for data collection
  3. Collect and Analyze Data
    1. Qualitative data may include key informant report, focus groups, and surveys by mail, email and/or phone.
    2. Quantitative data may include health status indicators, socioeconomic status, vital statistics, education levels, supply of health professionals, and how local residents use the health services.
  4. Select Priorities
    1. Use the triangulation process of determining where all data sets interact.
    2. Prioritize data with perceptions of the community.
  5. Document and Communicate Results
    1. Document data and discuss how gaps in service may or may not be achieved and why.
    2. Communicate results using a number of different media (newsletters, newspaper, radio, webpage, social media, etc.).
  6. Planning Action and Monitoring Progress
    1. Define the problem and work to solve it.
    2. Document progress and use it as a resource for potential grant dollars.


The Oregon Office of Rural Health can provide assistance with one or all of these steps. Please contact Meredith Guardino, Director of Field Services | | 503-494-4450 | toll-free 866-674-4376.

Related services offered by the Office of Rural Health (ORH)

  • Coordination of Local Resources and Organizations
    ORH will help communities understand the needs assessment process and who should be involved.
  • Service Area Definition
    ORH creates rural service areas using zip code data that best represent rural market patterns.
  • Demographic Analysis
    ORH will portray population data by age and gender for the rural service area.
  • Health Status Analysis
    ORH will provide information regarding the community’s health, disease prevalence and other factors that impact the health of community members.
  • Utilization of Health Services
    ORH will gather inpatient and outpatient data for the local community, as well as identify market share patterns and top inpatient DRGs for the service area.
  • Supply and Demand Analysis
    ORH will determine the projected need for health professionals based upon the demographics of the local service area.
  • Qualitative Assessment
    ORH will conduct surveys and conduct onsite key informant interviews to elicit feedback from the local community.
  • Development of an Implementation Plan
    ORH will provide assistance to organize and prioritize the information using local community input.