Define and Annually Review Service Area – Chapter 3: Needs Assessment

Since our annual review of data (UDS and OSHPD Alirts) is still fresh in our minds, I am currently completing the annual review of my clients “catchment area.” This second “Needs Assessment” requirement mandates that we do the following from Element a, Chapter 3, page 20:

“The health center identifies and annually reviews its service area 1 based on where current or proposed patient populations reside as documented by the ZIP codes reported on the health center’s Form 5B: Service Sites. In addition, these service area ZIP codes are consistent with patient origin data reported by ZIP code in its annual Uniform Data System (UDS) report (for example, the ZIP codes reported on the health center’s Form 5B: Service Sites would include the ZIP codes in which at least 75 percent of current health center patients reside, as identified in the most recent UDS report).”

Has anyone done this review in the past? I have to some extent as part of the Needs Assessments completed every three years, but this is a little more in-depth. Here’s what I’m currently doing for my clients:

  • Pulling the health center’s zip codes off their Form 5B – from every site and copying them over to a spreadsheet. This is your recognized service area;
  • Printing out the pages of the UDS report that gives me the zip codes;
  • Going right down the list and plugging in the totals from the report for each of the zip codes; and
  • Comparing this data to the 2016 UDS data for any significant changes.

The remaining assessment is unique for each health center. Depending upon the data at hand, you can put forth the recommendation to add any zip codes to your service area that have more than 20 patients, 50 patients, 75 patients, whatever number you think is logical. Or you can think about removing zip codes from your service area that have a very low patient count. These types of decisions will be discussed at the management level – and remember, the Board needs to be in on the discussion and always provide the approval.

I have also developed some statistics to support the review:

  • Percentage of patients who come from the service area – HRSA wants at least 75%.
    Totals by County.
  • Totals by site. This has helped my clients to know if there is any site based in- or out-migration of patients.
  • Additional zip codes that HRSA added to your UDS this year. Also – those that were deleted.

Keep in mind these are my thoughts on the assessment right now, but it will change as my clients start using it. I’ll keep you posted if we make any great discoveries.

Good luck!


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