By: John Besl
As some readers may be aware, United Way of Greater Cincinnati has enumerated Bold Goals for our region in the areas of health, education, and income. The region’s two bold goals in health, for instance, state that by 2020, at least 70% of Greater Cincinnati residents will report that they have excellent or very good health, and 95% will report having a usual place to go for medical care. Self-reported health status and having a medical home are merely two of many possible indicators of population health, which can be defined as “the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.” A summary measure of population health for small geographic areas has been a noble goal; earlier this year the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute released its third annual set of health estimates for counties nationwide, the 2012 County Health Rankings.
The County Health Rankings are derived from a conceptual model of population health that accounts for Health Outcomes (length and quality of life) as well as Health Factors (determinants of health). Each county is assigned two separate rankings: one for overall Health Outcomes and another for overall Health Factors.