Realising the potential of health needs assessmentsMatthew Anstey A B F , Paul Burgess C D and Lisa Angus E
A Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Hospital Avenue, Nedlands, WA 6009, Australia.
B Curtin University, School of Public Health, Kent Street, Bentley, WA 6102, Australia.
C NT Clinical School, Flinders University, Nightingdale Road, Royal Darwin Hospital Campus, Darwin, NT 0810, Australia. Email: email@example.com
D Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University, Royal Darwin Hospital Campus, Rocklands Drive, Casuarina, NT 0810, Australia.
E Affiliation during preparation of manuscript: Centre for Health Economics Research & Evaluation (CHERE), University of Technology Sydney, PO Box 123, Haymarket, NSW 2007, Australia. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
F Corresponding author. Email: Matthew.Anstey@health.wa.gov.au
Australian Health Review - https://doi.org/10.1071/AH16262
Submitted: 22 November 2016 Accepted: 28 March 2017 Published online: 15 May 2017
Population-level assessment and planning has traditionally been the role of public health departments but in establishing Primary Health Networks (PHNs), the Australian Government has instituted a new mechanism for identifying community needs and commissioning services to meet those needs. If PHNs are to achieve the vision of nimble organisations capable of identifying and addressing local health needs via integrated health and social services, several things need to occur. First, PHN funding schedules must become more flexible. Second, the Federal health department must maintain an open dialogue with PHNs, permit waivers in funding schedules to suit local conditions and be prepared to back innovations with seed investment. Third, health data exchange and linkage must be accelerated to better inform community needs assessments and commissioning. Finally, PHNs must be encouraged and supported to develop collaborations both within and outside the health sector in order to identify and address a broad set of health issues and determinants. By following these principles, PHNs may become leading change agents in the Australian healthcare system.
References Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Australia’s health system. 2014. Available at: http://www.aihw.gov.au/australias-health/2014/health-system/ [verified 22 June 2016].
 Department of Health. PHN background. 2015. Available at: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/PHN-Background [verified 22 June 2016].
 Department of Health. PHN needs assessment guide. 2015. Available at: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/PHN-Needs_Assessment_Guide [verified 22 June 2016].
 Barnett K. Best practices for community health needs assessment and implementation strategy development: a review of scientific methods, current practices, and future potential. Oakland, CA: The Public Health Institute; 2012.
 Friedman DJ, Parrish RG. Is community health assessment worthwhile? J Public Health Manag Pract 2009; 15 3–9.
| Is community health assessment worthwhile?CrossRef |
 Coster G, Mays N, Scott C, Cumming J. The impact of health needs assessment and prioritisation on District Health Board planning in New Zealand. Int J Health Plann Manage 2009; 24 276–89.
| The impact of health needs assessment and prioritisation on District Health Board planning in New Zealand.CrossRef |
 Department of Health. Primary health networks: grant programme guidelines. Version 1.2. 2016. Available at: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/F4F85B97E22A94CACA257F86007C7D1F/$File/Primary%20Health%20Network%20Grant%20Programme%20Guidelines%20-%20V1.2%20February%202016.pdf [verified 15 September 2016].
 Department of Health. Population Health Data. 2015. Available at: http://health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/PHN-Population-Health-Data [verified 22 June 2016].
 Freeman T, Javanparast S, Baum F, Lawless A, Mackean T, Ziersch A, Barton E. Primary health care population health planning: how well are Australian regional primary health care organisations performing? Presented at the 2015 Primary Health Care Research Conference, 29–31 July 2015, Adelaide, Australia. Available at: http://www.phcris.org.au/conference/abstract/8082 [verified 27 January 2017].
 Department of Health. Medical Research Future Fund. 2016. Available at: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mrff#meeting1 [verified 5 July 2016].
 Robinson S, Dickinson H, Durrington L. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue? Reviewing the evidence on commissioning and health services. Aust J Primary Health 2016; 22 9–14.
 Marmot M. Social determinants of health inequalities. Lancet 2005; 365 1099–104.
| Social determinants of health inequalities.CrossRef |
 Commonwealth of Australia. Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Closing the Gap Prime Minister’s Report 2017. Available at: http://closingthegap.pmc.gov.au/sites/default/files/ctg-report-2017.pdf [verified 9 August 2016].
 Alderwick H, Ham C. NHS in England embraces collaboration in tackling biggest crisis in its history. BMJ 2016; 352 i1022
| NHS in England embraces collaboration in tackling biggest crisis in its history.CrossRef |
 Timmins N, Ham C. The quest for integrated health and social care: a case study in Canterbury, New Zealand. London: The King’s Fund. 2013. Available at: https://www.hqsc.govt.nz/assets/General-NEMR-files-images-/kings-fund-CDHB-Sept-2013.pdf [verified 9 August 2016].
 Rosenbaum S, Kindig DA, Bao J, Byrnes MK, O’Laughlin C. The value of the nonprofit hospital tax exemption was $24.6 billion in 2011. Health Affairs 2015; 34 1225–33.
 Community Commons. Community health needs assessment (CHNA). 2015. Available at: http://assessment.communitycommons.org/CHNA/About.aspx [verified 22 June 2016].
 ABLe Change. ABLe change simple rules. 2016. Available at: http://ablechange.msu.edu/index.php/simple-rules [verified 8 July 2016].