Healthy Communities Institute

Indicator Selection Methodology

Healthy Communities Institute (HCI), a Conduent company, provides demographic and secondary data on health, health determinants, and quality of life topics. Data is typically presented in comparison to the distribution of counties, state average, national average, or Healthy People 2020 targets. Data is primarily derived from state and national public health sources. Through the Healthy Communities indicator system, community members have easy access to critical information about their community. 

Overall Approach

The primary aims of the Healthy Communities' indicator system are to inform and facilitate positive change. To inform, we must provide accurate, reliable, and timely data at a geographically-meaningful level. We accomplish this by selecting sources that meet the following criteria:

  • A validated methodology for data collection and analysis
  • Scheduled, regular publication of findings
  • Focus on data values for small geographic areas, such as counties and postal codes that are available for all county-level locations in the U.S or locally through our community partners

Framework for Indicator/Data and Topic Selection

The framework for indicator selection within the Health category is based on the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Healthy People initiative. Healthy People establishes science-based national objectives for improving the health of the nation. The initiative establishes benchmarks every ten years and tracks progress toward these achievable goals. This framework encourages collaboration across sectors and allows communities to track important health and quality of life indicators focusing on general health status, health-related quality of life and well-being, determinants of health, and disparities.

The Health subcategories are based on the Healthy People framework, and multiple indicators across the health sub-topics that correspond with Healthy People targets have been chosen (based on data availability, reliability, and validity from the source).

Hospital utilization indicators are based on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)’s Prevention Quality Indicators (PQIs), which are a set of definitions for preventable causes of admission. These measures can be used with hospital inpatient discharge data to identify quality of care for “ambulatory care sensitive conditions.” These indicators are important for communities to identify where prevention needs to be focused and can help lead to evidence-based community benefit planning. Ambulatory care sensitive conditions are also tracked by Healthy People.

Indicators in the other categories were selected according to national consensus and feedback from a wide set of advisors, public health officials, health departments, and local stakeholders from various sectors in the community. For example, the education indicators are based on the National Center for Health Research and Statistics and United Way of America, and the standards and goals they set forth to help track educational attainment in the U.S. Economic indicators were selected in conjunction with economic development and chamber of commerce input. All of the selected indicators have gone through a vetting process where HCI's advisory board, as well as stakeholders in communities who have implemented HCI systems, provide feedback to refine the core indicators in order to best reflect local priorities.

The indicator selection process evolves over time with changing health priorities, new research models, and national benchmarks. HCI continues to incorporate models and standards from nationally recognized institutions such HHS’s Healthy People, AHRQ’s PQI’s, EPA Air Quality standards, National Center for Education Research and Statistics’ priorities, United Way, and United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Atlas, among many others.

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