Access to Care Tops List of Health Needs in Milwaukee

Health Systems Conduct a Shared Community Health Needs Assessment

Milwaukee’s five health systems recently concluded a comprehensive community health needs assessment (CHNA), revealing significant health disparities and changes in some key health indicators for Milwaukee county residents. Conducted in collaboration with the Milwaukee Health Department and 12 other municipal health departments, the assessment serves as the foundation from which hospitals and local health departments will develop community health improvement strategies.

Access to health care services and health insurance coverage were two of the top ranking health priorities that emerged from a phone survey of 1,970 adults and in-depth interviews with a diverse array of over 40 community leaders. In addition to the need for primary care, the CHNA showed that Milwaukee residents also lack access to oral health, behavioral health and prenatal care services. Along with difficulty in navigating complex systems of care, these concerns were consistently noted among respondents in Milwaukee County, which ranks second to last in the state, according to the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute’s County Health Rankings.  Joy Tapper, executive director of the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership says, “These findings underscore the importance of our continued focus on the Partnership’s goals of expanding coverage, access and care coordination for Milwaukee’s low income and uninsured. Given the myriad changes coming through health reform, the Partnership members recognize that our collaboration is essential to improving health care delivery and reducing the total cost of care in vulnerable populations.”

The CHNA findings also point to a number of public health issues in Milwaukee that will require broader community participation.  These include: substance abuse, obesity, nutrition and physical activity, chronic disease prevention, infant mortality, sexual health, and health literacy. “This assessment builds on almost a decade of community health survey data that has been instrumental to hospitals and local health departments in the region,” notes Mark Huber, vice president social responsibility, Aurora Health Care and the Partnership’s CHNA committee chairman. “The assessment data helps us target health disparities and important health indicators; with concrete goals for health education, interventions and investments.”

The federal Accountable Care Act requires hospitals to conduct a CHNA every three years.  Huber adds, “As health care providers, we look for ways to be more efficient and this collaborative approach to the assessment is a great example of how aligning our limited resources across health systems can contribute to a collective impact.”

Based on the health assessment’s key findings, each hospital and local health department in Milwaukee will select priorities and develop individualized plans focused on community health improvement in the community it serves. The findings will also inform the Partnership’s fiscal year 2013 -2014 annual operating plan. For more information on the CHNA findings in the Milwaukee County Community Health Survey, the Key Informant Interview Report and the Secondary Data Report, please visit

About the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership
The Milwaukee Health Care Partnership (MHCP) is a public private consortium dedicated to improving care for underserved populations in Milwaukee County. The Partnership includes the five Milwaukee-based health systems: Aurora Health Care, Children’s Hospital and Health System, Columbia St. Mary’s, Froedtert Health, and Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare; the Medical College of Wisconsin; four Federally Qualified Health Centers: Milwaukee Health Services, Inc., Outreach Community Health Centers,  Sixteenth Street Community Health Center, and Progressive Community Health Centers; the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services and the City of Milwaukee Health Department.  These organizations have committed their leadership as well as financial and in kind resources to improve health outcomes, eliminate disparities and reduce the total cost of care.  The Partnership has three priorities: to ensure adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for all; to improve access to quality health care providers and services; and to enhance care coordination across the delivery network.  For more information, visit