EBM and Clinical Support Librarians@UCHC

A blog for medical students, faculty and librarians about their use of evidence based medicine, clinical literature, Web 2.0, sources and search strategies

News, Health Care, Public Health, Statistics, Demographics: A Healthcare Bill and County Health Rankings

An important change in the health of current and future generations of Americans is shaping up today – March 23 2010 – as President Barack Obama signed into law the H.R. Bill #4872Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation 4 Act of 2010“.

A copy of the 153-page PDF version of the bill as written 3-18-2010 can be viewed here; note that this copy is only a working version.  There will likely be modifications made by legislators to the Act in the coming days and weeks. 

Link here to view a 3-page PDF document outlining the details of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act“.  Many of the benefits described in this document will become effective in calendar year 2010.

Rivers of bandwidth and digital ink have been used up over this piece of legislation.  My (non-0fficial and personal) view of the events of this day is that it will be seen as a landmark day for future generations, very much like the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the 1973 Supreme Court decision for Roe-v-Wade.  But as this isn’t a political blog, let’s move on to the topic of statistical resources about the health of Americans.


Recently mentioned on Twitter* was County Health Rankings which offers up a valuable collection of current statistical data on the health of Americans or their access to health care, organized at a county-level by state.  This is exactly the type of local, microcosmic health measurement/outcome data that our MPH students and faculty often ask for.  Nice.

Following is an excerpt from their About page:

This web site provides access to 50 state reports, ranking each county within the 50 states according to its health outcomes and the multiple health factors that determine a county’s health.  Each county receives a summary rank for its health outcomes and health factors and also for the four different types of health  factors: health behaviors, clinical care, social and economic factors, and the physical environment. Each county can also [be]  drilled down to see specific data (as well as state bench-marks) for the measures upon which the rankings are based. “

Text Source: http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/about-project – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010

County Health Rankings is a joint project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.


Today, starting from the main page (shown below), I clicked on the state of Pennsylvania:

Image Source: http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/ – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010

Then I used the pull-down menu to select a county in the state:  Philadelphia County (PA).  The “snapshot” of ranked data for this highly urbanized county in the south-east corner of Pennsylvania is displayed below; the numbers do not reflect favorably for the health of those residents:

Image Source: http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/ – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010

According to the health indicators ranked by County Health Rankings, Philadelphia County holds the (undesirable) distinction of the lowest score (or 67th) for the criteria measured – including “Health Factors” and “Health Behaviors”.

The data assembled on the site is not an exhaustive list of health behaviors or exposures – such as you would find on the NCHS site – but the data collected (incidence of Premature Death, Smoking Habits, Infections with Chlamydia, Births to Adolescents, Infant Mortality, etc.) serve as an approximate measure of the overall health and evidence of access to health care for that local population.


Current statistical or demographic data as provided by County Health Rankings complements information previously made available from non-profit American foundations or organizations.

Below are only a few of the available websites that are open-access and searchable for health-related outcome measures in US populations.  If you have other great sites, please send a comment!

Image Source: http://www.statehealthfacts.org/ – All rights reserved – Copyright 2010
  • Staff from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality manages HCUP-NET (Healthcare Cost & Utilization Project), described as “ a free, on-line query system based on data from HCUP [which]… provides access to health statistics and information on hospital inpatient and emergency department utilization“. This page has been invaluable for answering those in-depth reference questions about hospital administration and/or patient statistics.


Finally: Here is a link to a post I wrote in November 2009 which includes other related links to healthcare data or statistics about Americans such as Healthcare Rankings.

* And I thank the person who mentioned it on Twitter because I don’t know who did.


One response to “News, Health Care, Public Health, Statistics, Demographics: A Healthcare Bill and County Health Rankings

  1. Amit March 24, 2010 at 12:48 AM

    i am going check your updates on blog.great job

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