Now that you’re familiar with the tools available on your county’s snapshot, how should you use those tools? The first step many communities take is to identify their problem areas and challenges. In our work with communities, we’ve found that strength breeds strength in community health improvement, so we encourage you to start by identifying your community’s areas of strength, the bright spots in your community. Ask yourself:
- Which of your county’s health outcomes and factors have the best ranks?
- Which of the measures in your county’s snapshot are better* than the state average?
- Among those measures that are better in your county, does the value for the state average sit outside of the margin of error for your county's measure? (If so, this suggests that this is an area of strength in your county.)
- If your county is doing relatively well compared to the state average, how does it compare to other counties in your state or to the Top U.S. Performers? (This measure may still reflect an area with room for improvement.)
Every community has assets and challenges. Now, let’s try to identify problem areas in your community:
- Which of your ranks is worse: Health Outcomes or Health Factors? If your overall rank for health outcomes is better than your rank for health factors, this suggests if you take no further action, your health outcomes rank may decline in the future. If your health outcomes rank is worse than your health factors rank, your health outcomes rank may improve in the future.
- Which of your health factors have the best and worst ranks?
- Which of the measures in your counties snapshot are worse* than the state average?
- Among those measures that are worse, for which is the state average beyond the margin of error for your county? (If so, this suggests that this might be a problem area for your county.)
- On the upper right corner of your county snapshot, you can click on Areas to Explore. Highlighted in orange are specific measures that, based on the value and its relative weight in the Rankings model of population health, are likely have a greater impact on your community’s health. This feature can serve as a double-check of the work you’ve done above.
- You can also click on Areas of Strength. Highlighted in purple are specific measures that are likely to be areas where your community is already doing well.
*Note: Most of our measures are framed so that a high value is worse than a low value but there are few measures where a high value is better: the food environment index, access to exercise opportunities, diabetic monitoring, mammography screening, high school graduation, some college, and social associations.