The latest installment of the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps is now out, and there has been a bit of a buzz about it over the last few weeks, which is great, because it is a hook for talking about ways to improve public health at a local level. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation hosted a national conversation last week to light a fire under all of us who have a stake in building healthy communities.
Susan Dentzer, senior policy adviser to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, moderated this conversation through which panelists explored the key learnings from the 2014 Rankings and discussed how this resource has inspired businesses, governments, and nonprofits to work together to build healthier communites. GSK was invited to be a part of the conversation because this resource has become an integral part of our philanthropy in the US – the Rankings give us an important baseline and the Roadmaps give us an evidence-informed path forward.
Here are some key takeaways from the conversation:
- Marjorie Paloma, Senior Policy Adviser for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, provided an overview of the findings from this year’s rankings and shared how those of us who live in the least healthy communities in America are twice as likely to live shorter lives as those who live in healthy communities.
- Brian Smedley, Vice President and Director of the Health Policy Institute at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, talked about how place matters to health and how communities can and should get granular with finer cuts of data to inform their approach.
- Mary Lou Goeke, Executive Director of the United Way of Santa Cruz County, mentioned how the Roadmaps not only help inform what strategies her community implements, but - more importantly - what strategies they do not implement. This is because the Roadmaps show which interventions have data to back-up its level of effectiveness. PS - Santa Cruz won the inaugural Culture of Health Prize.
- And I discussed how GSK intends to stengthen our commitment to Philadelphia – a community that ranked the least healthy in the state, but has many points of promise, including a strong department of public health, a groundbreaking initiative called Get Healthy Philly, and the engagement of leading nonprofit organizations like The Food Trust and Common Market.