Intelligence toolkits

We have developed this series of intelligence toolkits to help you conduct your own needs assessments, equity audits and segmentation profiles. Each document guides you through the process, step by step, setting out what you need to do and the reasons for each stage of the process.

All of these analysis tools have their place when it comes to commissioning, not just health and social care services, but plans for the built environment, transport networks, social and community groups, indeed any service, utility or provision which will affect the local population.

If you need any help using the toolkits, please email the JSNA team at:

Health needs assessment toolkit

The purpose of the health needs assessment is to better understand the health and wellbeing status of a particular population so that needs can be met, assets utilised and health and wellbeing improved. This could be through strategy and policy development, reshaping services or the commissioning of interventions to meet the identified need. It has been developed primarily with commissioning and services re-design in mind but is easily applied to other tasks such as writing funding bids or developing plans and policies.

The most important thing to consider before undertaking a needs assessment is whether it can and will lead to any action. There is no point spending time investigating the needs of the population if action cannot be taken due to existing policies, legislation or lack of resources for example.

Equity audit toolkit

Equity audit is a process by which local partners:

  • identify how fairly services or other resources are distributed in relation to the needs of different groups and areas;
  • identify the action that needs to take place to provide services relative to need;
  • ensure that action required is agreed and incorporated into local plans, services and practice; and
  • evaluate the impact of the actions on reducing inequity.

The main aim of equity audit is not to distribute resources equally, but rather in relation to need. Changes in investment and services as a result of equity audits will aim to reduce avoidable inequalities and promote equal opportunity to the determinants of good health, access to health and other services.

Segmentation profiling toolkit

The Local Government Association Guide to Segmentation ( states that segmentation is a way of understanding the likely needs and views of a population in terms of the different communities that make up the population. Segmentation analysis provides the most efficient way to understand the important differences among the various groups of people served by public sector organisations.

The most important thing to note is the use of the word 'likely' as profiling does not give factual information on real individuals but rather gives the likelihood of a household or postcode to act in a certain way or have a certain lifestyle or trait. Although this is generalising, it takes an important step away from 'one size fits all' and towards being able to tailor services to the needs of segments.

Page updated April 2016