Municipal Level Data for Population Health Improvement: An Evaluation of the City Health Dashboard Pilot
AbstractAmerica is rapidly urbanizing, with over two thirds of the U.S. population living in urban areas, reflecting a global trend. While urban living can bring social, economic, and health benefits, cities can also magnify risk. These complex social challenges require a social determinants of health orientation and city-level tools to bring together diverse stakeholders to identify and address priorities. One such tool, the City Health Dashboard, was developed by a team at NYU School of Medicine, Department of Population Health, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and the National Resource Network and was piloted in January 2017 with four cities. Integrating 26 measures across five domains, the Dashboard presents national data sources calculated to city and sub-city boundaries. The Dashboard is now being expanded to include 500 U.S. cities. However, little is known about how well the Dashboard and similar tools achieve their objectives.
In order to determine whether Dashboard accomplished its goal of informing decision making around city-level public health programming and policy making in four pilot cities, I conducted a formative evaluation of the tool, interviewing 16 key stakeholders from NYU and the pilot cities. Using thematic coding, I identified themes to describe why, how, and for whom the City Health Dashboard was developed, what the four pilot cities are using the City Health Dashboard for, and lessons learned that can be applied to the scaling process and its future evaluation.
Users in the pilot cities have begun to use this resource to expand their definition of health, bring in new actors to the health arena, focus their work more accurately to city needs, and reallocate resources to better address health issues. However, the Dashboard has not been utilized equally in all cities, and cities with higher baseline levels of data analytic capacity may find that the tool does not fill a crucial gap. With a focus on key audiences for design and dissemination decisions, new strategic partnerships, and increased comprehensibility and usability, NYU has the potential to build the Dashboard into a core resource for urban health improvement in cities across the country.
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