A new state website has launched, and Missourians can use it to find out about health issues in their area because it narrows them down to specific communities across the state.
ExploreMOHealth.org is a joint effort of the Missouri Hospital Association and University of Missouri Extension Center that allows anyone to look up health issues, even by ZIP Code. Prior to the launch, said Mat Reidhead, vice president for research and analytics for the Missouri Hospital Association, it was difficult for the state to know which towns or neighborhoods were struggling the most with certain health problems.
“Typically, health-related data are limited to the county level and above,” he said, “and it makes it really hard to identify which pockets of the population within different counties are really moving the population health needle in the wrong direction.”
The site allows anyone to look at all 114 Missouri counties and pinpoint health problems that affect specific areas within each of the counties. Reidhead said the state is interested in looking further at the economic, social and environmental factors that contribute to potential health issues.
St. Louis County, which includes some of the healthiest areas in the state, also has areas where health conditions are poor and in need of improvement. Reidhead said he believes that with this new site, the state can more easily address outside factors that affect these health issues. With diabetes, for example, healthy diet and exercise options could be prioritized.
“Put those two findings together and you’ve got more insight on how to formulate an appropriate population health intervention to reduce diabetes by improving access to opportunities for exercise or nutritional food,” he said.
The site is up and running, and anyone can visit. ExploreMOHealth.org also is looking for feedback on how to improve the site.