Don’t Fall for Scare Tactics: a FQHC Does Not Require Extra Needs Assessment


Like many types of businesses, there are consultants and companies who offer services to health centers. Some consultants may try to convince health centers that they need an extra needs assessment: don’t fall for their scare tactics! The needs assessment that a FQHC completes for a Service Area Competition (SAC), New Access Point (NAP), Look-alike Designation, or Look-alike Recertification must meet the compliance requirements for a health center but the basic requirements under the new compliance guide are not new. As always, the needs assessment should assess the need for health services in the service area you intend to serve. The rest of your application must show how your health center’s services meet the health care needs of the population served or proposed to be served.

Download a copy of the Health Center Program Compliance manual here. Chapter 3 goes over the current needs assessment requirements.

What is new for FQHC needs assessment?

What is new for the FQHC needs assessment is the requirement to annually analyze the zip code data from your Uniform Data System (UDS) report to make sure your service area definition doesn't need to be revisited. Seventy-five percent of your patients served should reside within zip codes listed in your scope of project. These zip codes can be found on Form 5B - Service Sites.

How can Health Center Solutions help?

Health Center Solutions consultants are experienced allies of community health centers. Our recommendation is for health center boards to determine how the annual review of their service area definition will be handled, to write it up as a procedure, and create a board action item that is added to the calendar. This can be accomplished as a stand-alone activity when you complete your UDS report each year in March. Simply compare the report data with your Form 5B; or make it part of your annual grant renewal (or recertification for Look-alikes) and have your board approve your scope of project by reviewing Form 5A - Services, Form 5B - Service Sites, and Form 5C – Other Activities. This option covers the zip code reconciliation and also covers a number of "Board Authority" requirements:

  • approving your services
  • approving your hours of operation (total hours of operation of each site is listed on Form 5B)
  • approving your annual grant/application to HRSA

If you do need a needs assessment update, Health Center Solutions uses the SAC, NAP, LA Designation, or LA Recertification template to create a needs assessment depending on your status, so you can use them in your next application project. We were able to help a client who needed an updated needs assessment for a site visit earlier this year . Our team simply completed the update three months ahead of her SAC as part of the SAC application package, at no additional cost.

Health Center directors have enough to worry about around compliance. Don't be taken by consulting firms scaring you into taking on added work.

Health Center Solutions’ dedicated professionals are focused on providing outcome-focused, customer-driven solutions. To schedule a meeting, a review of your needs assessment or to request more information about program compliance; please contact us today!

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