How do we plan for better health care?

How do we plan for better health care?

We look at a number of things to help us plan health services, including:

  • the things we 'need' for good health - which we find in what people say, what experts say, and in what our data shows us
  • and the things that 'determine' or influence our health

Need is an important concept in health planning. We look at four different types of need to build a picture of community problems and ensure that ‘real’ need is identified.

We gather information about health needs and issues in our region by talking to people and communities, consulting experts and health care providers, looking at research, and from data we gather from many sources, such as the census, general practices and hospitals and other sources. As much as possible we try to look at smaller areas and communities so that we have a good picture of the health needs in our region.

We also take into consideration health care costs, benefits, and supply and demand in determining how best to address needs and improve health outcomes. We also look outside the health sector at other factors which impact on health known as 'social determinants of health'  to ensure that need is assessed comprehensively and in context.

What are 'social determinants of health'?

"Social determinants of health are the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live, and age, and the wider set of forces and systems shaping the conditions of daily life. These forces and systems include economic policies and systems, development agendas, social norms, social policies and political systems."
(World Health Organisation, 2017)1  

When we examine social determinants of health we look at where people live, their education, employment and income, their access to health and other services, and the communities in which they live. We look at community strengths and how communities deal with crises and how they support each other in times of need, and how safe people feel in their communities.

We also look at the lifestyle choices people make, for example whether they smoke or drink alcohol often, take regular exercise or have a balanced diet. Altering or modifying lifestyle choices such as these can have a positive impact on the health of individuals and communities, and can lower the risk and prevalence of chronic disease. 

More information

More information about this and other population health topics is available on our Resources page. 

Links to other information from some of our key data sources can be found on the Other information about health in our region page.

For any other information or enquiries please contact the Health Planning and Performance Team by email:

1. WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION. 2017. Social determinants of health [Online]. Geneva: World Health Organisation. [Accessed 3 January 2017].


More information

For more information about the people in our region and their health, see the HNECC PHN Health Planning Compass