Health needs assessment pertains to the systematic approach of reviewing the current healthcare issues of a certain population and identifying actions that would address problems and ultimately improve the healthcare system (Peberdy, 1997).
The actions that are performed to improve the healthcare system are regarded as healthcare intervention strategies. There are currently five general steps that are involved in the assessment of the health needs of a community or population (Peckham and Spanton, 1994).
The first step involves the assembly of a several professionals who are capable of assessing the current healthcare system of the community. This group of professionals may play a major role in determining whether the population receives sufficient healthcare services to maintain a healthy community.
The next step in the assessment is to identify the current needs of the population based on the actual common illnesses that are reported for that locality (Stevens and Rafferty, 1997). For example, if there are a growing number of cases of cardiovascular diseases in the population, then there is a need to increase cardiovascular services in the hospital.
The third step involves putting the plan into action and this is mainly performed by the action preparation into the changes or additional services that will be provided to the population.
The fourth step involves the planning of the healthcare services that will be changed in the locality. This step also involves the identification of method of assessing whether the actual change has improved the health and well-being of the population in focus.
The last step of the health needs assessment involves the review of the changes included in the system of the particular population. This will enable the assessors on whether the changes indeed improved the health conditions of the residents of the locality (Wanless, 2004). When the health of the residents improves, then the health needs assessment procedure is successful.
2. Health needs assessment involves the participation of several professionals that would look into the healthcare requirements of a certain population in order to achieve a healthy population. One positive outcome of the health needs assessment in that the community members are involved in this endeavor, thus resulting in a form of team building (Quigley et al., 2005).
The community is further strengthened as all of the members of the community attempt to help out in identifying the requirements of the population. In addition, the entire community will participate in making a decision with regards to which specific healthcare service should be prioritized.
The participatory approach also improves the participation of the public in any activities that are associated with improving the healthcare system of the community. It is also possible that the resources of the community will be better valued and used when the entire community participates in the assessment.
On the other hand, there are also challenges involved in the participatory approach of health needs assessment. One obstacle is that each professional involved in the assessment may have his own attitude with regards to authority sharing and implementation of actions.
There may thus be clashes with regards to strong personalities and that they may be personal motives that may be involved with certain professionals or stakeholders in the assessment.
There may also be issues with the language used in the assessment because certain healthcare professionals may be used to employing medical jargon while the other members of the assembly are not from the medical field and would thus not appreciate the use of medical words during discussions and meetings.
The residents of the community may also not understand what the professionals are attempting to perform, especially when these individuals comes from another country or region of the country but use a different dialect. There may be misunderstanding or confusion with regards to plans and concepts for health needs assessment.
Peberdy, A. (1997). Evaluating community action. In: Jones, L. and Sidell, M. (eds.). The challenge of promoting health, exploration and action. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.
Peckham, S. and Spanton, J. (1994). Community development approaches to HNA. Health Visitor Journal, 67, 124–125.
Quigley, R., Cavanagh, S., Harrison, D., Taylor, L., and Pottle, M. (2005). Clarifying approaches to assessment: Health needs assessment, health impact assessment, integrated impact assessment, health equity audit, and race equality impact assessment. London: Health Development Agency.
Stevens, A. and Rafferty, J. (1997). Health care needs assessment: The epidemiologically based needs assessment reviews. Oxford: Radcliffe Medical Press.
Wanless, D. (2004). Securing good health for the whole population. London/Norwich: HM Treasury/Stationery Office.