Map NH Health Brings the State's Health Future Into Focus

Map NH Health Brings the State's Health Future Into Focus

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What will the state of New Hampshire's health be in the next two decades, and how should we meet the healthcare needs of our residents? MapNH Health, a new project of the NH Citizens Health Initiative and the Institute for Health Policy and Practice at UNH, will help frame these two important questions and more.

MapNH Health is developing an interactive website and will hold community discussions throughout the state. The website will provide map-based projections of possible health futures for our state designed to inform both public policy and community conversations about how New Hampshire can best prepare for the future health and healthcare needs of the state's residents.

"MapNH Health will provide a lens through which we can look at New Hampshire's health and healthcare landscape across three points in time: 2010, 2020 and 2030,” says Jeanne Ryer, director of the NH Citizens Health Initiative. “By understanding how our population, health behaviors, outcomes, cost of care, and our access to healthcare will change over time, we can start to talk about how to meet New Hampshire's future health and healthcare needs."

Ryer continues, "For example, we know that the northern part of our state has an increasingly older population compared with the southern part of the state. This aging of the population will impact the region's economy and healthcare needs. The need for healthcare services will increase, but the region will have fewer workers available to provide those services as many residents will have aged out of the workforce. We'll also be able to look at what impact specific indicators, such as obesity or diabetes, will have on needed healthcare services, and how the available services will impact outcomes and cost of care.

"Our ultimate goal is to engage stakeholders all around the state in community conversations that will examine what might happen, given the data, in order to formulate plans and public policy that will address New Hampshire's future health. We believe that the ability to present a picture of what New Hampshire’s people and their health will look like in2020 and 2030 will be a powerful catalyst for taking action now to ensure that our citizens will have access to needed services," Ryer says.

Callie Carr, project director for the Institute for Health Policy and Practice, has been spearheading the project with Ryer. “The interactive website will be built utilizing data modeling and projections completed by the Applied Population Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin. Projections will be based on current New Hampshire health indicators and population projections for 2020 and 2030," she says.

According to Carr, the resulting user-friendly website will provide information mapped geographically by county and healthcare service area (the communities served by a hospital). "Users will be able to see graphed projections of future demographics, health behaviors, outcomes and cost,” Carr says. “Upon launch of the website at the end of the first quarter of 2014 we will implement the stakeholder engagement process, including outreach to consumers, policy makers, business and industry leaders, hospitals and health systems, social service providers, public health professionals and educators."

MapNH Health has benefitted from assistance provided by its Stakeholder Advisory Group and a broad spectrum of organizations and agencies, including Bi-State Primary Care Association, Community Health Institute, Foundation for Healthy Communities, NH Purchasers Group on Health, NH Hospital Association, NH Voices for Health, The Dartmouth Institute, NH Department of Insurance, NH Department of Health and Human Services, NH Office of Energy and Planning, NH Department of Transportation, NH Medical Society, AARP, Endowment for Health, Nashua Regional Planning Commission, North Country Health Consortium, the Rippel Foundation, NH Business and Industry Association, Granite United Way, Upper Connecticut Valley Hospital, Healthy NH Foundation, UNH Cooperative Extension and NH Office of Minority Health and Refugee Affairs.

External support for the MapNH Health project has been provided by AARP and Endowment for Health.