Embedding Equity into Public Health Tracking

My Healthy Community

Just as medical care has greatly improved since the last worldwide pandemic in 1918, so too has the suite of data, information, and computational and data-enabled tools at our disposal. To successfully respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, policymakers and the public require the most comprehensive data possible—information that is timely, readily available, easily communicated, and relevant at all geographic levels. Rapid community-level reporting from Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS)​, laboratories, hospitals, and other sources will help residents and elected officials adopt appropriate mitigation strategies and will help ensure that the state’s residents are protected.

In 2019, DHSS released My Healthy Community, an innovative software platform to assist both state agencies and the public in understanding the issues that impact health to determine priorities and enhance decision making. The platform delivers neighborhood-focused population, health, environmental, and social determinant data via parallel public and private dashboards, and is the product of a years-long partnership among multiple agencies and stakeholders. Delaware Governor John Carney described this work as an “example of how we are making data more transparent, accessible, and easy to understand.” He continued, “Sharing community-level statistics and data allows Delawareans to understand what is occurring in their neighborhoods, make informed decisions about their health, and take steps to continue improving our quality of life.”

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MHC platform was rapidly refactored to display relevant indicators, mitigation strategies, and medical care status pertaining to the pandemic on a daily basis. This software informs users about the status of COVID-19 in their communities and supports policymakers in developing and implementing the necessary community-level mitigation strategies. Health care workers as well as policymakers are able to take advantage of MHC’s COVID-19 specialized software to access up-to-date information—as provided by the DPH, the Delaware Health Information Network (DHIN), and others—concerning the prevalence of the disease within their communities.

In February of 2021, MHC was one of only three states given an “A” ranking for best pandemic and vaccine dashboards in the country by the Broadstreet Covid-19 Data Project. Among its most important and innovative features are:

Geographic Scalability
MHC let’s users view reports from the state to the neighborhood/block group level. The neighborhood is the local level at which measurable improvements in health and social conditions can occur.

MHC presents social determinants of health to understand the conditions and help identify strategies to move toward healthy outcomes.

MHC provides geographically specific and mely visualizations to communicate effectively with community organizations—while maintaining individual privacy.

Ease of Use
MHC emphasizes intuitive controls and user research to develop an elegant interface for health care providers, public health professionals, and community organizations.

As we continue moving into the challenge of vaccine distribution, we will improve MHC to help achieve greater equity for Delawarians, and to be re-connected with national-level dashboards. This is a link to Delaware’s My Healthy Community dashboard.