When Bryan Metzger saw a HIDI presentation about a website that provided ZIP-code-level health information for Missouri hospitals and communities, he immediately recognized an opportunity to make better use of hospital data already being collected in Tennessee.
The result was exploreTNhealth, a web-based tool developed by HIDI and the Tennessee Hospital Association, where Metzger serves as senior vice president for information services.
“We saw exploreTNhealth as an opportunity to leverage the data that our association collects (hospital claims data) to benefit public health at large in our state,” Metzger said. “exploreTNhealth, and the ZIP Health Rankings dataset that powers it, provides a unique, granular view of community health. In particular, it can be used to highlight disparities that exist in communities across Tennessee.”
Many THA member hospital facilities use the data to update their community health needs assessments and support collaborations with public health partners in the communities they serve. Like the original Missouri model, exploreTNhealth is based on the population health model used by County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, developed by the University of Wisconsin Institute for Public Health.
HIDI worked quickly and efficiently to get the site up and running. “Once we sorted out the data timeframe to use, the HIDI team took it from there, quickly building out and testing the models for the Tennessee ZIP health rankings,” he said.
The free, publicly available resource is intended to help communities, hospitals, public health officials and other stakeholders identify local health needs by ZIP code or county, and to develop health needs assessments and actionable plans to improve public health.
The site launched in January 2020 “right before the world turned upside down,” Metzger said. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, efforts to promote the tool beyond THA membership had taken a back seat. But response from members has been very positive. “Many have begun incorporating data from the site into their CHNAs and using it to identify communities to target with limited community health resources.”
THA is exploring other opportunities to capitalize on HIDI’s breadth of services. “We’re considering adding their analytics offering and their Master Patient Index to our dataset deliverables,” he said, adding that he “absolutely” would recommend and has recommended HIDI to other state hospital associations.