Community Health Improvement Plans
Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) refers to a systemic, long-term plan that outlines strategies to improve a specific community—typically a CHIP is developed after, and informed by, a formal community health needs assessment (CHNA). A CHIP is usually part of a larger, ongoing (e.g. every three years) process to assess community conditions and identify community assets to help identify the best and most multi-solving opportunities for community improvement. CHIPs are often developed by local public health agencies and/or hospitals, but other organizations, community groups, and government entities can develop a CHIP. CHIPs have the potential to direct community investments of time, resources, and power, thus greatly impacting how a community evolves and who is impacted. Cross-sector collaboration and community engagement during both the CHNA and CHIP processes are important to ensure a formal CHIP reflects the community at large, especially marginalized communities and those most affected by community conditions.
Historically within the field of public health and generally in the U.S., vulnerable populations—BIPOC, disabled, LGBTQ+, and other underserved groups—have been overlooked in planning and improvement processes. Specifically, CHIPs have under-served low-socioeconomic status and communities of color who have most needed services and community improvements to advance equitable well-being. Today, we have an opportunity to develop CHIPs to more effectively meet community needs, address inequity, and build on community assets. This starts not only in the planning phase, but during Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA), where it’s imperative to engage those with lived community experience. Those who are closest to the problems we face have more knowledge about the nature of the problems and their root causes. Learning from the most impacted community members to inform a CHIP leads to more effective, efficient, often multi-solving implementation strategies.
CHIPs often dictate where community resources are spent and help prioritize community investments. In turn, they can greatly impact the future of a given community. In order to advance equitable well-being at the community and systems level, we must be careful, thoughtful, and strategic when developing a CHIP. Adoption of a well-being framework like the Social Determinants of Health or the Vital Conditions for Well-Being during the CHNA and CHIP development helps us take a holistic approach and consider upstream factors that impact health and well-being.