The Internal Revenue Service requires health systems to complete a community health needs assessment (CHNA) every three years. But for CHRISTUS Health, the CHNA is an integral part of their overall mission and health equity strategy. That’s why this year they took a new, more data-driven approach that provided deeper insights into the people and places their ministries serve.

Four things that are new and noteworthy to consider:

  1. Accessing data that goes beyond the EHR and patient demographics. CHRISTUS Health enhanced their CHNA process this cycle by partnering with Metopio to include its first systemwide, community survey on the data platform. This helped CHRISTUS create a resource to better understand the needs of those they serve — including patients, community members and their employees which was a new and important constituency for this CHNA.
  2. Collaborating on Communities of Focus. CHRISTUS Health focused on social determinants of health like education, income, health insurance coverage, unemployment rate and life expectancy to identify ZIP codes with historically marginalized populations. These ZIP codes were monitored closely during the survey process to ensure that the results adequately reflected the populations that live there and represent their needs. The result was a prioritization of needs in communities that the system could focus on across disciplines.
  3. Determining new systemwide health equity goals: This CHNA process resulted, for the first time, in systemwide health equity goals around heart disease and food insecurity. The goals were identified through consistent diligence to keep equity in focus throughout survey collection, focus groups, population and utilization data analysis and community engagement efforts. These priorities were also confirmed by the Community Benefit Advisory Council which includes team members from nursing, quality, strategy, population health.
  4. Integrating critical CHNA insights across the care continuum. The system has put the CHNA findings into action in employee health and wellness, strategy, diversity, equity and inclusion and strategic partnerships. By aligning resources behind two critical social determinants of health, CHRISTUS will be addressing barriers to living a more full and healthy life in communities that have long been under-resourced.

To learn more about CHRISTUS’ CHNA, their work with Communities of Focus, and how Metopio helped to make this CHNA dynamic and valuable with less time, less effort, and more impact, check out our recent webinar here or contact us to see how we can help with your community health initiatives.