New Population Health Tool Uses Social Determinants of Health to Identify High Need and At-Risk Populations

Healthy Communities Institute launches SocioNeeds Index™ to direct population health strategy where it is most needed

PHILADELPHIA–November 13, 2014–All communities can be described by various social, economic, personal and environmental factors that are well known to be strong determinants of health outcomes. The underlying data is extensive and cumbersome to systematically apply to geographically targeted population health initiatives led by hospitals, community health collaboratives and public health departments. Now, the SocioNeeds Index™ from Healthy Communities Institute (HCI) provides a beautifully simple way to identify those living in the highest risk zip codes that can benefit most from supportive health and social programs.

Speaking at the Population Health Symposium from VHA and the Jefferson School of Population Health, Deryk Van Brunt, PhD, President of HCI, addressed these obstacles by introducing the SocioNeeds Index as “another innovative way we’re enabling health improvement initiatives to prioritize their efforts through easy-to-use data visualization tools.” He added, “It is becoming increasingly clear that ‘micro community health intelligence’, offered through tools like this, is critical for identifying adverse underlying neighborhood factors and developing strategies to improve care and outcomes for at-risk populations. The Index identifies zip codes in the region you care about, which statistically will have the highest rates of premature death and preventable hospitalizations and are worthy of focus.”

The HCI SocioNeeds Index combines a set of socioeconomic factors–ranging from poverty to education–for all zip codes in the US. The determinants were standardized, averaged, and weighted to arrive at one composite index value for every zip code in the US. The Index formula maximizes the correlation to poor health outcomes, based on premature deaths and preventable hospitalizations.

“Organizations can use the SocioNeeds Index to set a perimeter around their geographic service area at the zip code level, then rank order the zip codes on a scale of 1 to 5 to identify the most vulnerable populations,” said Leslie Safier, an epidemiologist and Director of Research for HCI. “Access has never been this easy and comprehensive for analyzing, at a very localized level, social determinants of health to guide strategic planning processes,” she added.

The SocioNeeds Index™ is available to all Healthy Communities Institute clients immediately as part of the HCI Platform.

The Index will be critical to our efforts to use socioeconomic data to map vulnerable communities,” noted Ian Grant, Rural Health Program Manager at the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization. “As we build coalitions, design initiatives, and apply for grants we are leveraging the entire suite of HCI data resources to do focused population health improvement and community engagement.”

About the Healthy Communities Institute

Headquartered in Berkeley, Calif., the Healthy Communities Institute (HCI) provides the leading web-based platform to support health departments, community collaborations, hospitals and health systems with population health and community health improvement strategies. The web-based HCI Platform provides health indicator dashboards, access to thousands of nationally recognized promising practices, analytic and reporting tools and other features that support planning, evaluation and reporting. The platform is now used in over 35 states and covers over 100 million lives across the United States. The company’s multi-disciplinary team is comprised of healthcare information technology veterans, academicians, health informatics experts, epidemiologists, urban planners and Internet developers. HCI began its work in 2002 in concert with the growth of the Healthy Cities Movement co-founded at the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact Information:
Robert Murphy