ARCHI Enables Region’s Most Comprehensive Community Health Needs Assessment

All too often local hospitals view each other as competition, rather than as partners in solving population health challenges. In Atlanta, five health systems are cooperating in an unprecedented way.

Nationally, nonprofit health systems are required to regularly complete community health needs assessments (CHNAs) to maintain their tax-exempt status. Very rarely have independent health systems jointly worked to study and understand the specific health needs of the communities they serve. However, in Atlanta, five local health systems came together to collaboratively complete the region’s most comprehensive CHNA.

The collaboration was made possible through participation in the Atlanta Regional Collaborative for Health Improvement (ARCHI) and through the Georgia Health Policy Center’s facilitation of the CHNA process.

“This collaborative CHNA process and the resulting joint efforts to tackle shared, community health challenges, exemplifies putting ARCHI’s mission of facilitating collaboration and aligning partners’ work around common goals into action,” says Kathryn Lawler, ARCHI’s executive director. “ARCHI is proud to support these health systems in their ground-breaking collaboration and efforts to embrace a comprehensive approach to improving the health of the community.”

Through a combined investment in the CHNA process, the health systems were able to leverage resources and more efficiently and economically gather and analyze data, including substantial community input from a broad array of organizations and individuals, including those representing business, community-based organizations, the faith community, health providers, government, philanthropy, and social service providers.

“The real question is why wouldn’t we do this together,” says Madelyn R. Adams, from Kaiser Permanente of Georgia, who represents ARCHI as a board member and as a participating CHNA organization. “We are serving the same people and have the same goal of reducing health disparities in the Atlanta area. No one organization can do what we can all do together.”

The economy of scale of the CHNA enabled a more comprehensive assessment of health and well-being that incorporated transportation, education, and economic issues.

Mayor Kasim Reed, who spoke at the June ARCHI breakfast, acknowledged, “A healthy City requires a broad effort to tackle issues such as homelessness, affordable housing, transportation, and equity across the board.”

The CHNA uncovered significant community health needs in the areas of the uninsured, diabetes, STD/HIV, hypertension, obesity, mental/behavioral health, prostate cancer, injury/violence, low birth weight, poverty, breast cancer, and high school education nonattainment. In addition to the unprecedented level of cooperation displayed in conducting the CHNA, these health systems presently are considering ways they can work together to address identified health issues.

At ARCHI’s quarterly breakfast, a panel of senior leaders from the five health systems recently discussed why they chose to work together; barriers they had to overcome; expected and unexpected benefits resulting from the collaboration; and the opportunities for stronger, more effective health interventions in the future. Panel participants included:

  • Madelyn Adams, director of community benefits, Kaiser Permanente of Georgia
  • Tom Andrews, CEO, Mercy Care
  • Ginna Goode, community benefits specialist, Piedmont Health System
  • Kim Menefee, senior vice president, strategic community development, WellStar Foundation
  • Shannon Sale, senior vice president, planning and business development, Grady Health System

“Going forward we hope to engage other health systems, demonstrate outcomes, and show that walls won’t fall off our hospitals if we work together,” commented Sale.

For more information about the CHNA or ARCHI, please contact Kathryn Lawler.
To read the CHNAs follow the links below.