About the Local Public Health Assessment and Planning Cycle - Minnesota Dept. of Health

About the local public health assessment and planning cycle

Assessment and planning phases
How do these plans fit together?

All Minnesota community health boards are statutorily required to participate in assessment and planning, to determine local public health priorities and focus local resources on the greatest community and organizational needs.

The phases and deliverables below were developed through a state-local partnership process, and are based on recommendations from the State Community Health Services Advisory Committee (SCHSAC). The assessment and planning process allows community health boards to meet state statutory requirements, and aligns with Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) national public health standards.

MDH has designed all assessment and planning guidance to help community health boards meet national public health standards developed by the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB).

Diagram: Local Public Health Assessment and Planning Cycle Priority health issues Community health improvement plan Monitor, revise community health improvement plan Community health assessment Strategic plan Standards most in need of improvement Organizational assessment Monitor, revise strategic plan

 

Assessment and planning phases

Assess

The assessment and planning cycle starts with two assessments:

Organizational self-assessment: The organizational assessment is a self-study of the community health board’s ability to meet the national public health standards. It determines the community health board’s strengths and areas for improvement.

Community health assessment: A community health assessment identifies and describes factors that affect the health of a community, and determines opportunities to leverage available community resources to address those factors. A community health assessment supports efforts to achieve health equity by identifying disparities among different subpopulations so communities can dig deeper to understand and address underlying factors and conditions. A community health board, or another lead organization, in partnership with community, collects, analyzes, and uses data and information from multiple sources to identify health priorities and make decisions.

Prioritize

The assessments above allow a community health board and community partners to prioritize the most important issues facing the organization and the community. Each set of priorities, compiled across the state, give a snapshot of the state’s needs as a whole, as well as regional comparisons across the entire public health system.

Standards most in need of improvement: After completing the organizational assessment, a community health board prioritizes the three national public health standards most in need of improvement within its organization. The community health board may use these priorities internally to inform strategic planning and other improvement efforts.

Priority health issues: After completing the community health assessment, public health staff in partnership with community prioritize the health issues and/or factors impacting health to collectively address during the planning process. MDH may ask community health boards to periodically rank their communities' priority health issues, to provide a view of statewide priorities and to fulfill the requirements of Minnesota statute.

Plan

The community health improvement plan and strategic plans guide the community health board's (and community's) work. The community health board and community partners can use these plans to advocate for resources, work toward measurable results, and demonstrate efficiency and accountability. National public health accreditation standards state these plans should relate and connect to each other.

Strategic plan: The strategic plan defines a community health board’s roles, priorities, and direction over three to five years. It determines what the organization plans to achieve, how the organization will achieve it, and how the organization will know what has been achieved. It guides decision-making on allocating resources and pursuing strategies and priorities. The community health board’s strategic plan focuses on the entire community health board.

Community health improvement plan: A community health improvement plan is a long-term, systematic effort to address public health issues and factors impacting health in a community. It is based on the results of community health assessment and describes how the health department and community will work together to improve community health. The community health improvement plan is developed and implemented collaboratively, including roles and responsibilities of community partners in addition to the health department. It provides a vision and road map for the community's health.

Monitor/revise

Community health boards use the plans above to monitor progress toward goals, and modify or revise the plans as needed. Community health boards also report progress within the organization, to community health advisory committees, to county boards, to community partners, and to the public.

Description of how you monitor and revise your strategic plan: A strategic plan is a living document that a community health board routinely reviews, monitors, and updates based on progress, changing needs, and priorities. Community health boards can use performance management to monitor and revise the strategic plan over the course of the five-year Assessment and Planning cycle.

Description of how you monitor and revise your community health improvement plan: A community health improvement plan is a living document that a community health board, in collaboration with community partners, routinely (at least annually) reviews, monitors, and updates based on progress, changing needs, and priorities. Community health boards can use the short-, intermediate-, and long-term measures in their plan and other information to monitor and determine what revisions are needed. Revisions to measures, strategies and activities, time-frames, responsibilities in the community health improvement plan may be needed to keep the plan relevant and effective.

 

How do these plans fit together?

National public health accreditation standards state that the strategic plan, quality improvement plan, and community health improvement plan should relate and connect to each other.

Strategic plan and quality improvement plan

The community health board’s policies and strategic direction—found in its mission and vision, strategic plan, and community health improvement plan—guide the QI plan.

  • Different assessments guide the strategic planning process, including the organizational assessment, as does customer satisfaction data. In a way, the strategic plan provides a high-level view of the community health board’s efforts to improve its work, which is further explored in the QI plan.
  • The strategic planning process can also identify strategic goals that could guide the QI plan, such as developing a culture of quality improvement, or providing QI training for all staff, for example.

Strategic plan and community health improvement plan

The strategic plan lays the internal groundwork for the external implementation of the community health improvement plan.

  • Strategic plans reflect the internal work a community health board needs to accomplish to position itself to meet external interested parties’ needs (like the goals ultimately found in the community health improvement plan).
  • ▪ The community health improvement plan clearly outlines the community health board's role and responsibility in the collective work addressing the health priorities, and reflects the organization's capacity as outlined in the strategic plan.
  • When drafting the strategic plan, consider reviewing the organization’s most current community health improvement plan.

Quality improvement plan and community health improvement plan

The QI plan and the community health improvement plan inform and influence each other’s roles, responsibilities, and goals. For example:

  • As an organization recruits and retains partners to develop and implement a community health improvement plan, it may write into the QI plan ways to make that recruitment/retention process more effective and robust.
  • If an action plan is carried out without reaching the desired outcome, or if strategies and activities are not achieving the target measures for implementation, a partnership may write a QI plan to address the steps needed to better reach the outcome or the targets identified.

What does PHAB say?

To learn more about PHAB standards around assessment and planning, please visit PHAB: Standards and Measures version 2022, or contact your public health system consultant.

Example: Plans working together and community partnerships

A strategic plan can outline the actions a community health board takes to prepare staff to work with external interested parties. The plan might include performance measures related to building community relationships, ways to help foster an organizational culture that allows staff to spend time in the community, and goals for recruiting and retaining staff who reflect the community served.

The strategic plan can also include work with community partners not noted in the community health improvement plan. The community health improvement plan describes the organization’s community partnerships related to priority health issues, and how the organization and community partners share work to reach the plan’s goals.