ST. LOUIS, MO (March 21, 2018) – Community health improvement stakeholders and the public now have access to a unique tool to identify health factors and outcomes at the local level, with the launch of exploreMOhealth.org. The site, which is a product of a partnership among Missouri Foundation for Health, Missouri Hospital Association Health Institute, and the University of Missouri Extension Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems, includes the state’s county health dataset, combined with ZIP code-level health data and analysis.
The traditional delivery of health care is changing, moving beyond hospital treatment and into managing community health populations. As health providers begin to increase their focus on upstream underlying determinants of health that oftentimes lead to poor health outcomes, exploreMOhealth.org will serve as a resource for Missouri hospitals and public health professionals to develop more targeted, data-driven community health needs assessments. The scope of the data provide public health professionals and community health professionals new insights into local variation as they target high-risk communities and tailor interventions that can deliver the most value.
“We’re hoping that with this new way of accessing two very important datasets, communities can now move toward making better decisions to improve health,” said Robert Hughes, MFH President and CEO. “The changing health care landscape emphasizes the need for high-quality research if we’re going to enhance our current health system. Health outcomes vary depending on location and health disparities are real. A site like exploreMOhealth.org ties it all together and demonstrates why health goes far beyond health care.”
The site is designed for all audiences. Non-professional users can easily identify their county’s top health concerns, while viewing the top and bottom ranked ZIP codes within the county. They can also identify the most pressing health and social issues within those top and bottom ranked ZIP codes and where a community ranks against other ZIP codes statewide.
For health improvement planners, the value of addressing sub-county variation is two-fold. First, extensive effort and resources are required to improve community health. Targeting these limited resources to the areas of greatest need allows for the greatest impact. Second, by addressing the challenges of these high-impact communities, health improvement is more likely to be measurable across the entire county.
“This first-in-the-nation county and ZIP code health-related dataset offers unparalleled opportunity for the state’s hospitals as they develop community health needs assessments,” said Herb B. Kuhn, MHA President and CEO. “County-level data will supply powerful benchmarks, while ZIP code data will help identify significant variation within a county. Right now, planners are looking at the health of the state of Missouri under a microscope. Through exploreMOhealth.org, they will have the equivalent of an electron microscope – a closer view of communities, with high-contrast contours that will identify the influence of upstream health and social determinants at a hyperlocal level.”