Frequently Asked Questions

1   What needs to be submitted to MDH?
2   How and when is documentation to be submitted?
3   How did MDH choose these deliverables?
4   What will MDH do with the deliverables?
5   What are the expectations for level of detail in the plans?
6   Why is MDH reviewing the plans?
7   We finished one or more of our plans (CHIP, strategic plan, quality improvement plan) prior to the checklists being released. What should we do?
8   Will completing our assessments and plans for MDH meet the PHAB requirements for accreditation?
9   How do the PHAB standards fit into the assessment and planning process?
10   Is there a difference between planning and "the plans"?
11   How do the CHIP, strategic plan and quality improvement plans link together?
12   I am interested in partnering with my local hospital to conduct the community health needs assessment. How should I proceed?
13   Where do I get started?

1. What needs to be submitted to MDH?

  1. Three standards most in need of improvement
    (Organizational self-assessment)
  2. Ten most important community health issues
    (Community health assessment)
  3. Strategic plan
  4. Community health improvement plan (CHIP)
  5. Quality improvement (QI) plan

2. How and when is documentation to be submitted?

Deliverable: Due March 2015The three standards most in need of improvement (from the organizational self-assessment) and 10 most important community health issues (from the community health assessment) will be submitted via PPMRS during the 2015 reporting window. These lists are to be reported by CHB.

The community health improvement plan (CHIP) must be submitted as an accessible Word or PDF document by March 31, 2015. Files are considered accessible when they (1) pass accessibility checkers in Word and/or Acrobat and (2) have the title, subject, and organization name completed in the document properties.

The strategic planand quality improvement (QI) plan may be submitted in the format of the CHB's choice by March 31, 2015, and only need to be made accessible to the level that your CHB requires.

Submission by CHB is strongly encouraged.

To learn more about how to submit deliverables, visit Submit Your Deliverables.


3. How did MDH choose these deliverables?

The recommendation to include the five assessment and planning deliverables originated from the SCHSAC CHAAP Evaluation Ad Hoc Group in November 2010. In order to align with the national standards, the Ad Hoc Group's recommendation was slightly modified by the Performance Improvement Steering Committee in July 2011.

SCHSAC CHAAP Evaluation Ad Hoc Recommendation

CHBs should continue to be encouraged to "make CHAAP work for them," but should be required to submit the following items to MDH. These requirements will allow for MDH to assure a minimum level of assessment and planning is being conducted at the local level and will promote consistency for data collection and reporting.

  • A summary of community health issues. This summary should be the result of a comprehensive community health assessment. These should be the 10 most important health issues facing the community; not just new issues or those being addressed.
  • A summary of capacity areas for improvement. This summary of issues should be the result of a comprehensive capacity assessment. These should be the five areas most in need of improvement; not just areas being addressed.

Source: Recommendations for the 2010-2014 CHAAP Cycle (PDF: 132KB / 10 pages)

Performance Improvement Steering Committee Recommendation

CHBs should be required to submit a community health improvement plan, a strategic plan, and a quality improvement plan at the completion of the 2010-2014 Local Public Health Assessment and Planning Process Cycle. A summary of the community engagement efforts should be included in the community health improvement plan. Key factors behind the recommendations include the fact that assessment, prioritizing, and plan development are critical activities for a strong local public health system. Requiring the three plans elevates the importance for CHB's and the local elected officials who determine expenditure of financial and staff resources. The Public Health Practice Section is providing ongoing training and technical assistance to aid CHBs in creating these plans. Development of the three plans will enable LPH staff to increase their capacity for assessment and planning. Evaluation of the plans structure (not content) by the Public Health Practice Section will result in improved quality and utility of future plans. Submission of plans ensures accountability.


4. What will MDH do with the deliverables?

MDH will review these plans using a checklist to assure they are complete. Checklists for the following plans are online, so that CHBs can use the checklists for reference as they develop their plans.

MDH will provide CHBs with a brief summary of the reviews after they are conducted (all reviews will be by CHB).

Three Standards and 10 Health Issues

The three standards most in need of improvement and the 10 most important community health issues will be aggregated into statewide and regional summaries. Results will also be used to inform ongoing consultation and technical assistance provided to CHBs. The 10 most important community health issues for each CHB will be posted on the Public Health Practice Section website.

Strategic Plan, CHIP, and QI Plan

MDH will review these plans using a checklist (see links above) to assure they are complete. A brief summary of the reviews will be provided to each CHB (all reviews will be by CHB).

Each CHIP will be posted on the Public Health Practice Section website with the CHB list of 10 most important community health issues as noted above.


5. What are the expectations for level of detail in the plans?

A checklist for each plan and accompanying guidance can be found at Assessment and Planning: Checklists.


6. Why is MDH reviewing the plans?

CHBs have expressed an interest in receiving feedback on the assessment and planning process. Given that the assessment and planning process is required by statute, feedback on the process will not only improve individual CHB priorities and plans but will allow for a broad look at assessment and planning from a system-wide perspective. The reviews will also inform TA and training offered by the Public Health Practice Section.


7. We finished one or more of our plans (CHIP, Strategic, Quality Improvement) prior to the checklists being released. What should we do?

It is not MDH's intention to have CHBs redo their plans if they were completed before this guidance was released. Work with your regional Public Health Nurse Consultant to compare your plan(s) to the checklists. If there is great variation between the two documents, talk with your Nurse Consultant.


8. Will completing our assessments and plans for MDH meet the PHAB requirements for accreditation?

The Public Health Accreditation Board conducts its own independent review of each state and local health department and does not rely on any state-based requirements to make their determinations. MDH has designed the state guidance and requirements for the assessment and planning process to conform to the PHAB standards as a way to facilitate preparation for accreditation for those CHBs who are moving in that direction. However, fulfilling the MDH requirements is not a guarantee of meeting the PHAB standards for the purposes of accreditation. In addition, MDH is not requiring submission of supporting documentation, which PHAB does require.


9. How do the PHAB standards fit into the assessment and planning process?

MDH suggests that as CHBs engage in the assessment and planning process, they use the PHAB standards to serve as a point of reference. The standards that apply to Minnesota's assessment and planning process are:

Standard Assessment and Planning Deliverable
All Three standards most in need of improvement
(Organizational self-assessment)
1.1 10 most important community health issues
(Community health assessment)
5.2 Community health improvement plan
5.3 Strategic plan
9.2 Quality improvement plan


Please keep in mind that submitting your lists and plans to MDH is no guarantee that you will fulfill the PHAB accreditation requirements.


10. Is there a difference between planning and "the plans"?

A completed CHIP must be submitted to MDH. The plan document, however, is NOT the purpose of community health planning. The real goals of the planning process are to build capacity in good public health practice and to improve community health in partnership with the community.

Good public health practice (adapted from MAPP [new window]) includes:

  • Systems thinking and strategic planning
  • Shared community vision for health
  • Opportunities for community leadership
  • Partnerships, collaboration, dialogue
  • Effective use of data and experience

A good planning process, based on these principles, will result in a plan of action for community health improvement that is uniquely suited to the people, context, and issues of the local community. The plan document itself is a tangible result of the process that is useful for communicating internally (e.g., as a work plan) and externally (e.g., helping decision-makers understand the value of public health activities). This plan document is a key piece of the evidence required for accountability to MDH and provides some of the documentation needed for national accreditation.

While the strategic and quality improvement planning processes are focused internally, similar principles still apply. These planning processes should:

  • Have a foundation in the department's vision
  • Be data driven
  • Engage staff from all organizational levels
  • Be grounded in good public health practice

11. How do the CHIP, strategic plan and quality improvement plans link together?

Information regarding how the plans fit together can be found at About Assessment and Planning.


12. I am interested in partnering with my local hospital to conduct the community health needs assessment. How should I proceed?

Collaboration with hospitals that are now required to conduct a community health needs assessment (CHNA) and adopt an implementation strategy is strongly encouraged. Your Public Health Nurse Consultant can help you identify effective hospital-local public health collaboration in Minnesota. Another good resource is: NACCHO: Community Benefit [Note: this link will open in a new window].


13. Where do I get started?