Utah launches Healthy Places Index to track and improve health outcomes in disparate areas of the state

The Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) launched a new online map that tracks and compares health data across the state to evaluate county, city, and neighborhood health. 

 

 

Developed by the DHHS Office of Health Promotion and Prevention, the Healthy Places Index (HPI) uses data and input from nearly 100 industry and community partners statewide. It scores 8 community conditions such as education, transportation, housing, social, and healthcare access. 

Developers say the campaign is part of state efforts to understand how geography, environment, and social determinants of health (SDOH) affect health outcomes. 

“Where we live is strongly tied to our overall well-being and life expectancy—even more so than genetics,” said Sarah Hodson, Deputy Director of the Office of Health Promotion and Prevention. “Decades of research show how strongly neighborhood environments and community conditions affect health outcomes. However, conditions that support health — access to education, good job opportunities, and healthy food and water—vary drastically by neighborhood.”

As an example that illustrates the variation in health among different geographical communities, the map shows that Tract 1003.08, an area of Rose Park in Salt Lake City that lies west of the Jordan River, scored in the 1.2 percentile of healthy community conditions while neighboring Tract 1147 east of the river scored in the 53.57 percentile. Salt Lake City itself resides in the 22.5 percentile of healthy community conditions. 

The tool provides open access to hundreds of data indicators for community leaders and policy makers to assess what is happening in a given area and prioritize funding and resources. 

Users can make side-by-side comparisons across zip code, census tract, and county and consult them to measure the effectiveness of health-focused policies. 

“Our vision is that all Utahns have fair and equitable opportunities to live healthy and safe lives,” said Tracy Gruber, DHHS Executive Director. “This vision is statewide and our goal regardless of where someone lives. We no longer want ZIP codes to drive health outcomes and this new tool will help us get there.”