ArcGIS Solutions

Community Health Assessment Solution Released

Health and Human Services organizations need to collect household-level community health information. Sometimes this is done as a part of planning or response to an emergency event. Other times it serves the routine yet important function of providing a community health baseline.  No matter the purpose, information about how community health needs change over time or during or after an emergency event should be captured efficiently to provide actionable information.  When decision makers have timely access to community health information it helps support situational awareness and extends the breadth and depth of understanding community needs.

Emergency events like the COVID-19 pandemic, wildfires, hurricanes, and severe weather all heighten the need to understand local impacts.

The Community Health Assessment Solution was created to help health organizations collect community information, at the household-level, required for disaster response or health action plans. The solution delivers a set of capabilities that include: planning community health survey areas, collecting survey responses from households, and monitoring key indicators as the assessment occurs.

The Community Health Assessment Solution follows the Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) framework.  The World Health Organization developed this framework which has been adopted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  A CASPER survey calls for a two-stage cluster sampling methodology which is made easier with the Community Health Assessment Solution.  After cluster identification, health assessments are conducted, and the process is monitored in real-time.

Plan survey areas

Typically, a Community Health Assessment, using the CASPER methodology, is accomplished using 30 clusters. In urban areas, census blocks are commonly used as the geographic unit defining the clusters. Among all possible clusters (i.e. census blocks) in a community, 30 are randomly selected after weighting the possibilities by the number of households in each. The Community Health Assessment Solution provides an ArcGIS Pro project with tasks that guide the user through the random cluster selection process.  Census block information for this solution is provided by a layer in the ArcGIS Living Atlas.

Use the Plan Survey Areas Pro Project to define clusters in which to conduct the health assessments.

Assign teams

After the clusters are selected for the community health assessment, a survey team leader or assessment manager can quickly assign teams to conduct the surveys within the selected clusters. Once an area has been assigned in the Community Health Assessment Manager app, an email can be generated to send directly to team members, providing a link to their survey area, information on how many households to interview, and at what interval to survey (according to the CASPER methodology, there is a formula for selecting households to interview at discrete intervals to achieve the desired systematic random sampling).

Assessment managers can assign teams and relay appropriate information to people in the field.

Conduct health assessment surveys

Survey team members in the field are no longer tied to a clipboard and pen to collect information. With the digital Health Assessment Survey they can use a tablet or smartphone to perform the survey.  When the survey is opened, relevant information identifying their assigned cluster and team is pre-populated on the form. By default, the survey includes all questions currently available in the CASPER toolkit, with the addition of questions related to COVID-19 impacts.  Since health assessments are done in different communities for different reasons, there may be a need to add new questions, modify existing questions or remove unnecessary questions. The Health Assessment Survey is fully configurable and can be altered as required. As surveys are completed in the field, the assessment manager will be able to monitor the progress of the assessment in real-time.

Health Assessments can be conducted in the field and results viewed immediately in real-time.

Visualize key metrics

Executives want a high level summary of the demographic and functional needs responses to the survey to understand the patterns of basic needs within their community. Key metrics such as access to healthy foods and ability to keep up with housing costs are vital health indicators.  In addition, visual cues in the dashboard indicate whether the demographics of those surveyed align with the overall make-up of the community, maintaining data-driven insight on issues of health equity. The Community Health Assessment Dashboard allows executives to quickly access this information.

Use the Community Health Assessment Dashboard to view key demographic and functional needs information.

Additional resources

Learn more about the Community Health Assessment and other solutions and how to deploy them on the ArcGIS Solution site.  For questions and feedback, chat with us on GeoNet or contact Esri Support Services.

Finally, Esri is providing several resources to help organizations combat the coronavirus.  The COVID-19 GIS Hub is the place to access additional resources and to request GIS assistance from Esri.

About the authors

Jeremiah is an ArcGIS Solutions product engineer. He has more than 20 years experience with Esri, including six years as an instructor with Educational Services and several years as a solution engineer on the State and Local Government Global Business team. For the last several years he has been supporting public safety and health workflows with ArcGIS Solutions.


Este Geraghty, MD, MS, MPH, CPH, GISP is the Chief Medical Officer at Esri, developer of the world’s most powerful mapping and analytics platform. She heads Esri's worldwide health and human services practice and is passionate about transforming health organizations through a geographic approach. Previously, she was the deputy director of the Center for Health Statistics and Informatics at the California Department of Public Health. There she engaged in statewide initiatives in meaningful use, health information exchange, open data and interoperability. While serving as an associate professor of clinical internal medicine at the University of California (UC), Davis she conducted research on geographic approaches to influencing health policy and advancing community development programs. Geraghty is the author of numerous health and GIS peer reviewed papers and book chapters. She has lectured extensively around the world on a broad range of topics that include social determinants of health, open data, climate change, homelessness, access to care, opioid addiction, privacy issues and public health preparedness. She received her medical degree, master's degree in health informatics, and master's degree in public health from UC Davis. She is board certified in public health (CPH) and is also a geographic information system professional (GISP).

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