Community Health Trends

Each non-profit hospital must gather information every three years about the health needs in its community, as required by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNAs) are opportunities for non-profit hospitals to identify the health-related needs of its community and craft strategies to address at least a few of those needs. Hospitals must get input from “persons who represent the broad interests of the community” during the CHNA process.

The Executive Summary includes an analysis of 73 CHNAs conducted in Virginia between 2011 and 2015 (65 by non-profit hospitals, 7 by local health departments, and 1 by a health foundation). This is the first time analysis of all Virginia CHNAs has been conducted – to identify the common themes as a basis to develop priorities that can help guide and inform providers, public officials, and other stakeholders committed to achieving population health gains.

The Summary outlines the five most frequently reported leading health issues and critical service gaps identified in the CHNAs. It includes CHNA data regarding health professional shortages, and examines some of the top causes of potentially avoidable hospitalizations noted in the assessments. It also includes priority areas for which strategies have been identified to improve health of Virginians.

Below are highlights from the analysis:

  • Obesity and related conditions (heart disease and diabetes) account for three of the top five reported leading health issues across all Virginia CHNAs.
  • Behavioral health and substance abuse round out the top five leading health issues identified in the CHNAs.
  • Behavioral health was noted as critical service gap in 85% of CHNAs.
  • Most CHNAs (92%) cite inadequate access to oral health care as a concern.
  • Two of the most commonly reported strategies to address community health issues – “Address Obesity and Related Effects” and “Promote Nutrition, Wellness, and a Healthy Lifestyle” – target obesity, a preventable yet prevalent and expensive condition.

Individual summaries for each Community Health Needs Assessment can be downloaded here: http://www.vhha.com/research/population-health/community-health-needs-assessments/

This project was completed in partnership with the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.