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Criteria for Best Practices

Mapping Assets

img_16021A critically important first step in the community health improvement process is to build shared knowledge through an assessment of health needs and assets. Health systems that engage community representatives in the mapping process can tap community assets – neighborhood-based knowledge, strengths, and skills – moving beyond needs assessments to harnessing other vital tools to improve community health. Stakeholder Health endorses the African/International Religious Health Programme (ARHAP/IRHAP) model of mapping.

Moreover, rather than paying outside experts to perform traditional CHNA, health systems can leverage publicly available data sets (CDC, state and local public health data, their own utilization data) and a community asset-mapping process, thus saving dollars that can be redirected to proven community health approaches.

community mapping healthEven more reason to map assets as well as needs: Documenting and mapping community assets can itself be an important way to build trusted and enduring relationships with diverse stakeholders.

Community Asset Mapping Strategies:

  • Survey employees and existing community partners to identify community-based organizations addressing different content areas
  • Engage community members in participatory research to document and map existing assets, as well as negative factors (e.g. vacant lots, liquor outlets, fast food outlets) that can be turned to positive purposes
  • Work with public sector agencies to identify neighborhood-level business configurations, zoning restriction, current priorities, and emerging opportunities
  • Engage religious leaders to identify current social roles and interest, and to explore areas for potential collaboration
  • Engage the funding community so that writing a grant becomes the logical extension of an ongoing conversation
  • Engage policymakers to build relationships for dynamic information exchange, and policy change
  • Interview patients to map their individual health journeys, and community-based resources they found useful
  • Geographic information systems (GIS) can be used by health systems to map or track high utilizing patients from certain areas and develop more strategic interventions, drilling down to the social determinant level, to decrease inappropriate utilization of healthcare resources. This coupled with participatory mapping is often called participatory hotspotting.

Promising Practices

Images from Scratch Maps, Faith and Health.