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Turning data into action: Healthiest Communities Data Challenge announced at Health Datapalooza

April 26, 2018 | Innovation

Since the Aetna Foundation and U.S. News & World Report announced the Healthiest Communities rankings last month, people across the country have been combing through the data to learn about their community’s health and see which areas need improvement.

Someone in Dallas would see their city’s high population of uninsured; a Phoenix resident would see they’re having trouble accessing healthy foods; and someone in Tampa would be concerned by their higher-than-average violent crime rate.

Now, the Foundation’s Healthiest Communities Data Challenge will give local residents the opportunity to turn that data into action.

The Data Challenge will make the information gathered from the Healthiest Communities rankings available to local agencies, foundations/organizations, entrepreneurs and others to use toward designing community-level health programs.

Partnering with AcademyHealth, a leading national health services and policy research organization, the Foundation hopes the Challenge will encourage innovation while improving health outcomes.

“The Healthiest Communities rankings have captured the attention of people in communities around the country and got them talking about how they can help their community,” said Garth Graham, M.D., president of the Aetna Foundation.

The Data Challenge was announced April 26 in Washington, D.C. at AcademyHealth’s Health Datapalooza, a major conference for digital health leaders.

“As a next step, the Data Challenge is an opportunity to turn the data into plans that will allow local groups to target the parts of their community that need the most help,” he said, “and will help communities develop their own unique ‘healthy community agenda.”

Initial plans call for a series of mini-challenges addressing specific categories of interest such as food availability/nutrition, population health, or public safety. A separate “Primary Challenge” will require applicants to address multiple categories.

Full details about the challenge are scheduled to be released in June, with the challenge opening date scheduled for July.

After a submission and evaluation period, winners will be announced at 2019 Health Datapalooza. The event will be cosponsored by the Aetna Foundation.

“Data is the lifeblood of research and its innovative use by talented people can be transformative,” said Dr. Lisa Simpson, AcademyHealth president and CEO. “I can’t wait to see what participants come up with and how their work will point the way to significant improvements in the health of communities.”

The Data Challenge is the latest in a series of Aetna Foundation efforts to help people live healthier lives and achieve their health goals. From Cultivating Healthy Communities grantees to Healthiest Cities & Counties Challenge participants, the Aetna Foundation is providing support to organizations that are addressing local health issues with local solutions.