Non-profit as well as public health organizations often use a needs/capacity assessment when developing strategies because it allows for the organization to gain a more in-depth analysis of the community they are serving as well as the stakeholders within the organization itself ( Bilton, 2011). This particular assessment starts with the “what” does the hospital wants to look at, whether it be access to clinics within 30 days, or wait times to be less than 20 mins across the board, and this must be clearly defined as to what it is needed for, whether it be to increase patient satisfaction or potentially increase efficiency and utilization rates.
The next important part of the assessment is to ask the “who” so are to develop a core group that will focus on this strategy, but of course more stakeholders can be added to the group as needed at a later date. Then the group should have a facilitator, preferable from the leadership team at the organization, to keep the group on track and ensure that all members have a voice and will contribute to the strategy. Now the group is ready to define the strategy and choose the assessment tools that will be used, such as; focus groups, surveys, and/or community or organizational meetings.
A needs/capacity assessment is performed in lieu of other strategic assessments because for a healthcare organization, it is imperative for the strategic assessment to be focused on including the community that the organization is servicing as well as including organizational stakeholders that are involved directly with the patients to provide much need insight into the day-to-day operations (Alfano-Sobsey, Ledford, Decosimo, & Horney, 2014). When comparing a SPACE analysis, this model is more of a business model in which decisions are made by senior management instead of key stakeholders (Gurbuz, 2013). This type of assessment runs the risk of not addressing the community needs because key stakeholders are not involved in the strategic planning, and pertinent information may not be available in this type of SPACE assessment.
A type of hypothetical example for the needs/capacity assessment could be looking at wait times for a clinic. A SPACE assessment may analyze the delayed wait times for clinic appointments from a senior management point and say that the patient slots for each visit should be decreased to 30 minutes instead of 60 minutes and this would create more slots for patients to be seen, thereby decreasing scheduling greater than 30 days, seeing the strategic plan from a conservative approach. The needs/capacity assessment would have key stakeholders helping the group to understand that new patients need 60 minutes for quality and safe assessments, and that they are seeing more new patients than follow-ups (which may only need 30 minutes). Another stakeholder may note that the community demographics is changing and this is leading to more new patients. The group may decide that hiring more providers and increasing the clinic space is the solution to decreasing appoints to less than 30 days. The group may then decide that an expansion plan is in the best interest of the organization and the community.
Alfano-Sobsey, E., Ledford, S. L., Decosimo, K., & Horney, J.A. (2014). Community health needs
assessments in Wake County, North Carolina: Partnership of public health, hospitals, academia,
and other stakeholders. North Carolina Medical Journal, 75(6), 376-383.
Bilton, M. (2011). Community health needs assessment. Trustee, 64(9), 21-24.
Gurbuz, T. (2013). A Modified strategic position and action evaluation (SPACE) matrix method.
Proceedings of the International MultiConference of Engineers and Computer Scientists,2, 1-4.
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