Community Health Improvement Assessment and Plans

An Overview of the Process 

Since 1993, Wisconsin State Statutes have required communities throughout Wisconsin to develop and implement local health plans to address health conditions affecting their residents. This process has been referred to as the "Community Health Improvement Process," named partly due to the resulting health status changes in a community and the people who live there.

Local health departments are required by Wisconsin State Statutes Chapter 251.05 to: 

  1. Regularly and systematically collect, assemble, analyze, and make available information on the health of the community; including statistics on health status, community health needs, and epidemiological and other studies of health problems. 

  2. Develop public health policies and procedures for the community. 

  3. Involve key policymakers and the general public in determining and developing a community health improvement plan that includes actions to implement the services and functions specified under s. 250

  4. Submit data, as requested, to the local public health data system established by the department. 

Additional requirements in community health assessments and planning are found in Department of Health Services Administrative Rules Chapter DHS 140.04.

To guide the discussion, a tool some have found helpful is the state health plan, Healthiest Wisconsin 2020 (HW 2020). The Community Health Assessment is framed around the 12 health focus areas of HW 2020, including information on local, state, and national morbidity, mortality, health behavior, social, and economic indicators. Community data is compared to the national Healthy People 2020 and HW 2020 goals.

A team of community representatives is formed to: 

  • Review health conditions and their modifiable risk factors that affect community residents. 
  • Identify community strengths and resources that can be built upon to address given health conditions. 
  • Prioritize health conditions that affect residents. 
  • Develop goals, measurable objectives, and implementation strategies to address the top health priorities. 
  • Incorporate health-plan goals and strategies into day-to-day activities of community partners. 
  • Annually review progress on goals, objectives, and strategies.

Community representatives should only review enough data to decide if the health priority is a top concern for their residents without over-burdening them with information that is better used in targeting implementation initiatives.

Community representatives determine variations to the process and information discussed. Depending on the community, template data may be augmented with data only found locally, including data from school and opinion surveys, environmental health programs, and local health providers.

For more information or assistance on Community Health Improvement Assessments or Community Health Plans in your region, please contact your Regional Health Educator:

For more information or questions, please contact Jim Lawrence at 715-365-2708.

Last Revised: April 19, 2016