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Community Health Needs Assessment and Health Improvement Plan (CHNA & HIP) Guidance

This page provides guidance for completing community health needs assessments and health improvement plans (CHNA & HIP). The first section provides an overview of the process, timelines and general resources for completing a CHNA & HIP process and for local public health reporting to IDPH. The second section is a step-by-step guide to completing comprehensive community health needs assessments and improvement plans. 

Overview, Timelines and CHNA & HIP Reporting

What is a CHNA & HIP and how do I get started?

A CHNA & HIP is a community-wide process for identifying the most important factors affecting health in the community and developing a plan to improve health by building on community strengths and working on gaps. 


The CHNA & HIP guide below details 11-steps involved in completing a CHNA & HIP, along with multiple resources for completing each step.

Timelines (due dates for local public health)


Online Tools
Downloadable Tools (for offline use)

Word ZIP


* Note: These forms cannot be viewed in Chrome or Firefox browsers because the built-in PDF viewers they use are not compatible with PDF forms. To use the forms, download them to your computer (right click and "Save as") and open them using either Adobe Acrobat or the free Adobe Reader. View the troubleshooting guide for step-by-step instructions.

CHNA & HIP: A Step-by-Step Guide

The following CHNA & HIP guide consists of basic steps and tools for community assessment and planning. Key elements include an analysis of community health needs and assets and developing a set of priorities and objectives for taking action. The process calls for community-wide participation in shaping decisions about improving the community’s health and mobilizing support and resources. The basic steps in the guide are consistent with the assessment and planning requirements in the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) Public Health Standards (Domains 1 and 5) available at https://phaboard.org/standards-and-measures-for-initial-accreditation/ and IRS requirements for tax-exempt hospitals based on Section 501(r)(3) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act available at https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/community-health-needs-assessment-for-charitable-hospital-organizations-section-501r3. However, additional documentation is required to demonstrate compliance with PHAB and IRS requirements. See the documents referenced above for specific documentation requirements.

Step 1: Adopt a Planning Structure

Step 2: Identify & Engage Stakeholders as Partners

Step 3: Identify & Secure Resources

Step 4: Identify Data that Describes Community Health Status & Needs

Step 5: Analyze the Data & Develop a CHNA Summary

Step 6: Review Factors that are Important for Health & Well-Being (Priority Setting)

Step 7: Document Stakeholder Discussion & Invite Broader Community Participation & Input

Step 8: Develop the Action Plan/Health Improvement Plan (HIP)

Step 9: Implement, Track Progress, & Sustain the Process

Step 10: Establish & Implement a Communication Plan

Step 11: Evaluate Goals, Objectives, Strategies, & the Communication Plan

Page last reviewed: July 15, 2021

Page last updated: July 15, 2021

Content source: Iowa Department of Public Health, Bureau of Public Health Performance

For more information:

Jonn Durbin
Lucas State Office Building
321 E 12th Street
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0075
Phone: (515) 452-5766

Use the "Contact Us" page to submit questions online.