Virginia launches statewide health equity dashboards

This week, Virginia governor Ralph Northam unveiled new public statewide health equity dashboards, measuring the state’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts and increasing the accessibility of data.

 

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The two dashboards are called Equity in Action and Equity at a Glance.  They were created by the Virginia Health Equity Leadership Taskforce (ELT) in partnership with several state agencies. The launch of the dashboards are the result of two pieces of legislation: House Joint Resolution 537, which declares racism as a public health crisis in the Commonwealth, and Virginia Code Section 2.2-435.12, which requires Virginia’s Chief Diversity Officer to conduct statewide equity assessments.

“The pandemic has placed a spotlight on longstanding health inequities and the harm caused by structural racism,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia continues to embed equity into every part of our COVID-19 response and recovery and while we have made great strides, there is still important work to be done. These dashboards will bring additional visibility to our most pressing challenges, allowing the Commonwealth to better serve vulnerable populations and ensure the equitable distribution of resources.”

As far as how they differ, Equity-in-Action dashboard is designed to keep of track of Virginia’s COVID-19 response and whether the state is achieving an equitable distribution of investment. The Equity-at-a-Glance assesses of social determinants of health and other factors contributing to health equity. ELT plans to expand the dashboards to include an expanded set of topic areas, such as workforce diversity and criminal justice.

“This interagency project shows us how data can be used to measure Virginia’s standing in many areas including COVID resources, health care, unemployment, education, food access, and broadband across 133 localities,” said Chief Data Officer Carlos Rivero. “This is a best practice in data sharing and sets a positive precedent for increased collaboration across state agencies.”

The Governor’s Office said these dashboards are “the nation’s first public statewide health equity dashboards,” though other states also have health equity dashboard. State of Reform asked the Governor’s Office what about Virginia’s health equity dashboard make it unique to the health equity dashboards that already exist, but did not receive a response by the time this article was published.

An overview of the dashboards and underlying data can be found at governor.virginia.gov/diversity/equity-dashboards/overview.