What is a CNA?

A Community Needs Assessment (CNA) is an analysis of physician supply and the demand for physician services within a defined geographical service area. Health systems and hospitals work with third-party consultants like Carnahan Group to conduct these analyses to obtain an unbiased opinion of their service area’s community need for physicians by specialty.

Service Area
A service area can be defined simply – for example, the county your hospital is in, or in a more complex fashion, by following guidelines like those stated within Stark law.

ZIP-Code Level Service Area

Physician Supply

The supply side of a CNA seeks to answer the following questions:

•How many active physicians are practicing inside your service area?
•How much time do these physicians spend providing clinical services within the service area?

Carnahan Group compiles physician data from a variety of public, purchased, and proprietary data sources to ensure the most accurate, up-to-date representation of the total physician supply within a given service area.

Demand for Physician Services

To determine a community’s demand for a given physician specialty, multiply the service area’s population by the specialty’s physician-to-population ratio.


Carnahan Group considers widely accepted, published physician-to-population ratios within Community Needs Assessment (CNA) analyses. These ratios may be customized according to the unique demographics and market dynamics within a particular service area.

Community Need

A surplus or deficit of physicians by specialty emerges when one subtracts the demand for physicians from the actual supply within the service area.


Conducting a CNA can provide a defensible opinion of community need that may be used to justify recruiting assistance for non-employed providers. To learn more about the rules and regulations associated with community need, click here.

How does a CNA differ from a CHNA?

It is important to distinguish a Community Needs Assessment (CNA) from the IRS requirement that non-profit hospital facilities complete a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) every three years. A CNA is intended to determine physician supply and demand within a service area, while a CHNA is intended to assess the health needs of the community a hospital serves while taking into account input from public health experts and community stakeholders.

Getting Started on your CNA

Click here to learn more about how Carnahan Group can help with your Community Needs Assessments for your organization.
Or call us at 813.289.2588.

Written By: Kelsey Anderson, Senior Strategic Healthcare Analyst