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Support Community Health Needs Assessment with Philanthropic Aid

Understand how a CHNA helps healthcare organizations improve community health and where philanthropic aid can help

September 12, 2022
Community Health Needs Assessment

When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was implemented, not-for-profit hospitals faced new requirements for demonstrating community benefit. The primary report for these requirements is the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), a state, tribal, local, or territorial health assessment that identifies essential health needs and issues through systematic, comprehensive data collection and analysis. Many types of hospitals and health systems conduct CHNAs to demonstrate their community benefit in exchange for tax credits, and your organization is probably already conducting a CHNA every three years. However, many organizations have not considered how philanthropic aid can support this effort.

CHNA initiatives should focus on outcomes which are objective and measurable. This could include access to care, clinical performance metrics, and social determinants of health. Selecting initiatives which are measurable allow for benchmarking across communities and prioritization for current and subsequent years. Measurement of process and outcome are key to ensure execution. Initiatives which leverage technology as a tool are especially valuable because they provide data to create visibility on performance metrics. Timelines are also something to consider. Many community health needs will require a multi-year commitment to be successful.

Scaling your hospital or health system’s patient assistance program via philanthropic medical financial aid is an often-overlooked initiative to drive CHNA impact and success. Philanthropic medical finical aid can be measured quantitatively, mitigates patient cost barriers to access care, and reduces financial distress.

“I cried when I got the bills, and then cried of happiness when the assistance was applied. I didn’t know anything like this existed or that I had options."

- Patient reaction to program award

There are currently more than 20,000 philanthropic medical financial aid programs that offer $30B annually. These programs provide copay assistance or free drugs to patients who can’t afford treatment or don’t qualify for traditional government programs like Medicaid. Additionally, there are many social support programs that advance health equity by delivering transportation, lodging, and food services to vulnerable populations. Hospitals and health systems often to struggle to fully maximize this aid for their patients due to program complexities, coordination, and data challenges, but these barriers can be overcome.

How can your organization best optimize and expand access to these programs? Leverage technology. This will identify more patients who qualify for programs, streamline program enrollment, and coordinate delivery of awards. Outcomes tracked with centralized reporting provide clear performance metrics on process and outcomes. Explore Atlas Health’s solution to discover how to enhance your CHNA strategy with philanthropic medical financial aid.