In every community, the healthcare system includes a variety of members, both direct and indirect. Direct members include hospitals, healthcare clinics, long-term care facilities, and healthcare providers, including doctors, nurses, physicians’ assistants, and support staff, as well as consumers. Indirect members of the healthcare community include case managers, utilization reviewers, insurance companies and coalitions of partnerships; these groups frequently take a holistic approach, considering the needs of the “whole” person within the context of each unique situation (Members and Families, 2011.) The goals of healthcare teams are typically to promote independence and help people remain at home, to utilize preventive healthcare strategies, to administer direct assistance, all of which are designed to enhance the patients’ qualities of life.
In order to evaluate a community’s healthcare needs, a needs assessment must be conducted. Such an evaluation is the systematic approach to guaranteeing that the health system utilizes its resources to enhance the health of the population most efficiently. A thorough assessment involves using a variety of methods to define health problems of a community, to identify inequities in health care and access to services and establish priorities for the most successful allocation of resources. Distinguishing between individual needs and the wider needs of the community is crucial in the planning and provision of local health services (Wright, 1998.) If such needs are not taken into consideration, then the community risks providing only a top-down approach to the delivery of healthcare services. This situation would have an exaggerated reliance on what only a handful of people believe are the needs of the entire population instead of reflecting an accurate assessment of what needs actually exist in that community. In order to conduct a successful healthcare needs assessment, the evaluators must use a pragmatic understanding of what is involved, the time and resources that are essential to conduct such assessments, and adequate incorporation of the results into planning and contracting for local provision of services (Wright, 1998.)
John Wright, Rhys Williams, and John Wilkinson (1998.) Development and Importance of Healthcare Needs Assessment. Retrieved January 8, 2013, from US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes Of Health: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1113037/
Members and Families. (2011, November 29). Retrieved January 8, 2013, from Community Health Partnership, Inc.: http://www.communityhealthpartnership.com/members/