The County Health Rankings provide a snapshot of a community’s health and a starting point for investigating and focusing ways to build a Culture of Health. This guide provides examples of how communities have used Rankings data in local health-improvement efforts. Visit the Action Center to learn more about how you can improve health in your community.
Engage communities in health improvement
The Rankings are the beginning of the discussion when it comes to community health – the next step is to get moving.
- In San Bernardino (CA) the local health department used the Rankings to show policymakers the need for change. The Rankings informed the health department’s drive to get every community in the county to launch a Healthy Communities initiative.
- The Rankings prompted a “sense of urgency” for the United Way of Greater Toledo (OH) along with the community it represents. The County Health Rankings model became a tool to talk about the social determinants of health and how to respond.
- The mayor in Gem County (ID) greeted the news of the Rankings as a “wake-up call,” leading to an effort to target areas for improvement.
- A coalition in the Springfield (MA) region dedicated to building a healthier community used the County Health Rankings model as a catalyst in a report on health equity.
- The Rankings provided a framework for a Blueprint for Action in Coachella Valley (CA).
Assess the health of a community
Communities across the country are incorporating County Health Rankings data into community health needs assessments, as well as other health improvement strategies. For example:
- Polk County (WI) drew upon the County Health Rankings to conduct a community health assessment and develop a community health improvement plan for the county.
- Using the County Health Rankings framework as a model, the Greater Louisville (KY) Project released a report that looked at the health of Louisville’s residents and how those findings impact the city’s competitiveness.
- In Detroit (MI), a local community development corporation relied on an approach that addressed each of the four factors measured by the County Health Rankings and used Rankings data to recruit strategic partners and leverage more than $500,000 in grant support.
Identify the root causes of health issues
The County Health Rankings are used to uncover the root causes of poor health in the community and to focus efforts on factors that can lead to the biggest gains in health.
- Rockingham County (NC) used the Rankings data as a charge to assemble a task force, identify the root causes of their poor health rankings, and develop recommendations for community action.
- Burnett County (WI), with help from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps coaching, identified transportation as a key contributor to cyclical, generational poverty in the rural community and worked toward a transportation plan incorporating public transit and a ride-share program.
- Rankings data and Roadmaps coaching helped show leaders in Rowan County (NC) that many residents lived in food deserts – areas where healthy foods weren’t easily accessible. To address this issue, an initiative was started to create a mobile farmers market, bringing fresh food right to the people whose transportation barriers prevented them from accessing it regularly.
As communities take action, they have used data from the Rankings and other sources to understand whether policies, programs, or plans are on track to improve health.
- The County Health Rankings Action Plan in Genesee County (MI) is a 10-year effort to strategically improve the health of residents, putting Rankings data to use over a long period of time.
- The South Salt Lake Early Learning Network (UT), the recipient of a Roadmaps to Health commmunity grant, uses data to identify and track students who need additional assistance in achieving academic progress.
Support decision-making and policy change
Data and support from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps are used to inform policy- and decision-making in support of action to improve health.
- Using data from the County Health Rankings and other sources, Allen County (OH) crafted a platform to encourage a local planning commission to require developers to build sidewalks in newly completed residential developments.
- Bronx County (NY) placed last out of all state counties for Health Outcomes in the County Health Rankings, and with help from a Roadmaps to Health community grant, a campaign was launched to support legislation implementing paid sick leave.
- Community organizations in Baltimore (MD), with assistance from a Roadmaps to Health community grant, convened to support an unprecedented $1.1 billion financing plan to rebuild and renovate local schools.