Researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch and Texas A&M School of Public Health reported that Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements for nonprofit hospitals to conduct a community health needs assessment (CHNA) and implement strategies to improve health priorities have little potential to affect population health, as they were implemented during the first three-year cycle. The researchers reviewed, evaluated, and scored 95 Texas nonprofit hospital community health needs assessment and improvement planning reports and interviewed 16 health system and hospital key informants, consultants, and community stakeholders.
This mixed methods study evaluated population health-related elements, such as interpretation and implementation of the draft IRS CHNA regulations, types of priorities selected and intervention activities implemented, community participation in the assessment and planning process, and inclusion of an evaluation and monitoring plan. Although others have suggested this regulation may improve population health outcomes, the findings from the first three-year assessment and planning cycle in Texas suggested this is unlikely. The researchers made several recommendations, including clarifying the purpose of IRS CHNA regulations, engaging community stakeholders and members in collaborative assessment and planning, identifying underlying determinants of health, adopting a community health planning framework, and emphasizing population health improvement. The paper, Community Health Needs Assessment: Potential for Population Health Improvement, was published in Population Health Management.