Who We Serve

IndianaPartnershipLogo_FNLThe Indiana Partnership for Healthy Communities (IN-PHC) is a collaboration between the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health (FSPH) and The Polis Center at IUPUI.

Established in 2012 with support from the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (I-CTSI), the mission of IN-PHC is to make the knowledge generated by communities and academic institutions more accessible to the public, and to translate that knowledge into practices that improve public health.

The partnership helps build the capacity of hospitals, local health departments, and community-based organizations to more effectively address an area’s health needs by considering socio-economic and other geographically-related determinants of health. An important feature of an IN-PHC project is mapping and spatial analysis.

For example, we help healthcare and public health partners identify geographic populations for targeted health intervention and education programs. We also assist non-profit hospitals complete their required IRS community health needs assessments (CHNA). This includes helping our hospital partners to identify and prioritize community health concerns in their service areas and to discover community-based resources that they can engage to help community members protect and advance their health.

To learn more about the type of projects with which IN-PHC is involved, read the case study below:


IN-PHC CASE STUDY: Creating an Assessment

Parkview Health is a not-for-profit health system in northeast Indiana that consists of nine hospitals serving about 800,000 people across seven counties. Parkview approached IN-PHC for help in creating its 2016 community health needs assessment (CHNA); the Affordable Care Act of 2010 mandated that hospitals produce a CHNA every three years, but Parkview has been producing them for more than a decade.

The assessments “help us identify the community’s priorities,” says Sue Ehinger, the Chief Experience Officer with Parkview Health. “And then, we can partner with people in the community in order to close the gaps on those issues.”

As part of the assessment process, the IN-PHC team used a variety of state and national sources to create a preliminary list of health needs in the counties that Parkview Health serves. Then, it gathered more detailed data about the top community health concerns by conducting phone surveys and organizing focus groups with people who live in the communities.

By analyzing hard data and incorporating community input, the team identified 13 major health issues in the region, including cancer, diabetes, the cost of healthcare, mental health, and sexually transmitted diseases. Next, it applied a method for ranking them that took into account the size of the problem, the seriousness of the problem, and the effectiveness of potential interventions.

The IN-PHC team presented its findings to executives from each of the Parkview Health hospitals, who then voted on which health issues to prioritize. Obesity was easily their first choice, followed by mental health, maternal and child health, drug abuse, and diabetes. Each hospital in the Parkview Health system also selected its own top priorities.

“More than just a report”

The challenges identified by the CHNA are well-known to health experts, but the process of creating a formal assessment is useful, according to Ehinger, because it “helps us to focus and funnel all our activities into what the community believes is most needed.”

The process is also valuable because it helps keep the issues in the public eye.

“It’s very easy for us, as humans, to keep our heads in the sand,” says Sarah Wiehe, director of the Community Health Engagement Program at the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute. “These are very challenging problems to address. A lot of them are interrelated, and they don’t have a silver bullet answer. Having a place to start is extremely valuable. It starts the conversation within the health system, and between the health system and the community. And together, they identify ways in which they can intervene.”

The collaboration between Parkview and IN-PHC moved into a new phase, and The Polis Center is helping Parkview with implementing solutions.

“We’ve asked them to walk through the solutions, and help us figure out: Are these indeed best practices?” Ehinger says. “Or, do we need to stop going in this direction and go a different route? They’ll help us solidify the direction that we’re going with all our solutions, and understand which measures we should be focused on.”

Parkview’s commitment to cultivating partners both inside and outside the community—partners who can help them both identify and solve problems—is critical to the organization’s long-term success, according to Wiehe.

“By going through this process, they’re getting more than just a report at the end,” Wiehe says. “Now they have partners who are invested in it. And that spirit of partnership is notable.”