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Virginia Department of Health launches updated health mapping tool

healthcareThe Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity announced the launch of an updated version of the Virginia Health Opportunity Index. The HOI is an online mapping tool of community health influences that allows advocates, citizens and providers to view the many factors that affect health across the Commonwealth.

The Virginia HOI, which was first developed in 2012, provides a composite measure of the social determinants of health – the social, economic, educational, demographic and environmental factors that relate to a community’s well-being. It is part of the state’s continuing efforts to improve the health of all Virginians.

“Virginia is among the nation’s leaders in medical research and care,” said State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, MD, MPH, FAAFP, “and with all we spend on health care, Virginia should be among the healthiest of states. But we aren’t; we rank in the middle. The Virginia HOI is an excellent tool that provides vital information to help us all understand the fabric of Virginia’s communities so that they can become healthier, more connected and more resilient. I am confident the HOI will inspire more important conversations about how to make Virginia the healthiest state in the nation.”

The Virginia HOI evolved from a review of scientific evidence that links social and environmental factors with health. VDH-OMHHE staff consulted with many health representatives before selecting the factors that had the largest measurable impact. They gathered the data about those factors from multiple sources and created a single index of information in an interactive, web-based format.

“The first HOI was an amazing index of information regarding the social determinants of health, but it was easily lost in a 125-page report,” said VDH-OMHHE Director Adrienne McFadden, MD, JD. “We want to engage the user with this updated version by bringing to life data that is already available

to the public. For instance, the ‘County Dashboard’ shows that counties with the lowest rankings in community environment also tend to rank low in overall health opportunity. Does that mean the design of a neighborhood affects the health of its residents? It’s questions like this that we hope the HOI inspires, so that all Virginians may begin to look at the whole picture of their health.”

The Virginia HOI is available to the public online and will be updated continuously at Requests for data sets may be made on the website’s contact form.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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