The Greater Lowell Health Alliance continuously seeks input in determining the region’s most urgent health care needs.
In partnership with the Greater Lowell Health Alliance, Lowell General Hospital in 2016 commissioned researchers and students from the University of Massachusetts Lowell to conduct a community health needs assessment to identify the unmet medical and public health needs within the Greater Lowell community. The geographic area assessed included the communities of Lowell, Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Tewksbury, Tyngsborough, and Westford. This assessment involved primary data collection using focus groups and key informant interviews, as well as secondary data sources, such as the Massachusetts Department of Public Health MassCHIP database and the United States Census. Similar studies were conducted in 2010 and 2013.
FOUNDATION FOR ACTION
The study had two key objectives. The first was to fulfill state and federal requirements of Lowell General Hospital to conduct a Comprehensive Health Needs Assessment every three years. The second and ultimately more important objective was to generate a study that would provide a foundation for the GLHA and its partners, including Lowell General, to build consensus on the area’s priority health needs and develop action plans to improve the health of the area’s residents.
A PLAN FOR THE FUTURE
The study will prove useful in helping to form the Greater Lowell Health Alliance’s long-term agenda and strategy, with a goal to help meet the unmet healthcare needs and strengthen the area’s health system. In the coming year, the focus of the Greater Lowell Health Alliance will be working with the community to develop a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), based on the priority areas identified in the 2016 Community Health Needs Assessment.
A CHIP is used as roadmap for health improvement over a three to five-year period and guides the investment of resources of all organizations that have a stake in improving health for the residents of Lowell and the surrounding communities.