Missouri collaboration gathers ZIP code-level data for population health efforts

The state hospital association and other groups join to create a dataset that can collect social determinant information.
By Mike Miliard
02:16 PM
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Missouri ZIP code-level data for pop health efforts

The University Hospital in Columbia, Missouri. Credit: Google Maps

Missouri Hospital Association Health Institute is partnering with other health groups in the Show Me State on a new online database meant as a local-level resource for community health professionals – and the public.  

Working with the Missouri Foundation for Health and the University of Missouri Extension Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems, MHA has launched exploreMOhealth.org, which aims to give stakeholders a tool to explore location-based data to help identify population health factors and work toward better outcomes.

More and more providers, payers and government agencies are innovating new ways to improve the social determinant factors that are so critical to good health. Just this past week, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, announced a major new initiative – in partnership with companies such as CVS, Walgreens and Lyft – to help address the fact that, "what often dictates health isn't genetic code, but ZIP code," as BCBSA's Scott Serota put it.

[Also: New BCBS Institute working with Lyft, CVS, Walgreens to tackle social determinants]

The new website launched in Missouri mines the state’s county health dataset, as well as other ZIP code-level data, and makes it available for analytics at healthcare organizations across the state.

Officials say exploreMOhealth.org can be a valuable resource for Missouri hospitals and public health professionals to develop more specific and data-driven community health needs assessments, offering new insights into local variation as community health pros spot high-risk populations and work toward more tailored health interventions.

[Also: Rush University Medical Center reaps higher CMS star ratings, cost savings by building its own predictive analytics framework]

"This new dataset offers unparalleled opportunity for community health assessment," said Herb Kuhn, president and CEO of the Missouri Hospital Association. "County-level data will supply powerful benchmarks, while ZIP code data will help identify significant variation within a county."

Today, health planners are looking at Missouri under a microscope," he added. "With 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."

The website isn't just for care providers and community health workers, however. Officials point out that members of the public can use it to identify their own counties' top health concerns, or show the top- and bottom-ranked ZIP codes within each county. They also can see which specific health and social issues within those ZIP codes are most pressing, and where their community ranks compared with other locations in the state.

"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, president and CEO of the Missouri Foundation for Health. "The changing healthcare 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."

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com