Tis the season of health data projects.

First, The State of the USA. There are 20 critical data points you need to know to understand, and then improve, the health of the U.S. A new and expansive data collection effort is underway that will inventory the most credible of these indicators so we have a true picture of the nation’s health.

State of the USA, Inc
(SUSA), is the organization that’s taking on this task. SUSA is a non-profit organization that will collect data on a broad range of issues, health and beyond. They’ve asked the Institute of Medicine for guidance on the most robust health indicators. And the indicators are (drum roll, please!):
  • Life expectancy at birth
  • Infant mortality
  • Life expectancy at age 65
  • Injury related mortality
  • Self-reported health status of fair or poor
  • Unhealthy days, physical and mental
  • Chronic disease prevalence
  • Serious psychological distress
  • Smoking
  • Physical Activity
  • Excessive Drinking
  • Nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Condom use
  • Per capita health spending
  • The percent of Americans without health insurance coverage.
  • Unmet medical, dental, and prescription drug needs
  • Preventive services
  • Childhood immunization
  • Preventable hospitalizations.

SUSA wants to serve all health stakeholders, not just media researchers and policy wonks. This information is gathered and organized to inform health citizens on their health system. People can interact with these various data points to dive deeper into them and learn more.

The second health data project to highlight is HealthLandscape, sponsored by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Robert Graham Center, and The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. Think of this like a Dartmouth Health Atlas for consumers. There is a free portion and a subscription portion, the latter of which will accept personal data.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: These projects aren’t doing data for data’s sake. These web-based tools will enable users to interact, to critique, to dialogue about the American health system, warts and all. This is what the web to health 2.0 world is all about: participatory health care.

In this recessionary era, Americans are blessed to private Foundations investing in these projects.

I hope that these services get used beyond policymakers and health data junkies. The designers of these sites made a great attempt to create useful interfaces for real people. They’re built to be used; let’s hope health citizens come to use them.