Systems change: Completing a needs assessment

Do: Step 2
This process has four elements:
  1. Plan:
       a. Step 1.
       b. Step 2.
       c. Step 3.
       d. Step 4.
  2. Do:
       a. Step 1.
       b. Step 2.
  3. Study.
  4. Act.
Work with the clinic to conduct a preliminary assessment of the current screening environment. This needs assessment will help identify areas that the clinic would like to improve. Here are a few topics to consider:
Define a need or problem that the intervention will address
At the most basic level, the health problem that will be addressed is the high rates of mortality and morbidity from a certain health condition. Other needs are more clinic-specific, such as the need to gather baseline screening data, improve low screening rates or decrease health inequities in the clinic population; or the lack of an explicit policy or reminder system.
Define the desired outcomes
The overarching goal is to improve clinical practice that will increase screening rates. These outcomes should be time-specific and measurable. Other outcomes could include:
  • Increasing the knowledge of providers and staff to carry out screening.
  • Adoption of a standard policy that uses best practices.
  • Increased awareness of a patient’s screening status due to improved tracking and reminder systems.
Discuss the scope of the intervention
What activities are realistic for staff to undertake? What resources are required? Baseline assessments can be time-consuming and often an outside consultant may be needed. Creating an office policy is not as time-intensive but clinic leaders must be willing to spend the time creating and refining it. If the clinic is interested in staff training, staff members must have the flexibility to be away from their clinic duties to attend the training.
Identify current screening policies and practices
To engage and support the clinic’s effort to implement strategies to increase screening rates, you must understand the environment in which they operate. Discuss what’s currently working for screening and areas that the clinic would like to see improved. The questions in the link below can be helpful in determining the current landscape.