Today, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin released the 2011 County Health Rankings, ranking over 3000 counties in every state on their overall health. The County Health Rankings provide measures listed by “Outcomes,” measures of health, and “Factors,” influencers of health. The information released by the County Health Rankings, powered in part by data that HHS was proud to supply, is an excellent resource to pair with other data resources that are also available, such as the ones listed in http://www.healthdata.gov/. By opening up the raw and aggregated data to the public, County Health Rankings are providing the wonderful gift of data liberation to researchers and developers alike. The release of this data is indeed another significant positive step forward for the health and technology communities.
The County Health Rankings project has also released a number of tools that allow users to explore the data in ways that were not possible before without a statistics program. Tools like the county health calculator allow for mashups of datasets related to county health with ones related to education and transportation. These mashups will go a long way towards helping consumers and local officials understand the effects that different factors have on a county.
Equally as important as the release of the data files, summary reports, and tools is the “Action Steps” part of the County Health Rankings website. Although providing data is an important step in the improvement of health by providing actionable steps that one consumer can take to improve health, the County Health Rankings help close the loop on how to utilize information to drive positive health outcomes. The site helps those looking for information by providing resources for community leaders, employers and businesses, government officials, health care professionals and advocates, and public health professionals and advocates. The stories related to the action steps will bring home the fact that these datasets affect real people in real ways, reminding all of us of the impact that this site and other data liberation efforts have on a day-to-day basis.
Many congratulations to the teams at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin for the remarkable progress they are making with health data and the benefits they are helping communities realize across America!
Todd Park, CTO
For more information about today’s announcement, visit http://www.rwjf.org/publichealth/product.jsp?id=72092