About 9 months ago research director of The Opportunity Agenda, Brian Smedley, guest-blogged on THCB about a New England Journal of Medicine study. his colleague Mike Connery wrote to me to tell me about this:
Yesterday, as part of our Health Equity program, we rolled out a new tool that I think you’ll find very interesting. The tool is a new website designed to visually illustrate the economic and racial disparities that exist in New York City’s health care system, and drive all New Yorker’s of conscience to take action by emailing their elected officials. It’s a Google Map mash-up that takes data on NYC hospital closures between 1985 and 2007, and overlays it on an interactive city-wide map that can display either the racial or economic demographics of the Five Boroughs during three periods: 1985, 1995, and 2005.
Using this tool, visitors can visually see how hospital closures disproportionately impact poor neighborhoods and communities of color. Text on the sidebar guides the user through each decade and demographic overlay, explaining the changing conditions of the city and the impact that closures have on underserved communities.But the site is more than just a visual resource, it is also a data-rich resource for researchers that contains a variety of reports and fact sheets (as well as data on the patient demographics, payer source, and quality scores for each hospital), a community forum for health care advocates and New Yorkers, and an activism tool that encourages New Yorkers to write to their elected officials in support of creating a health care system that works equally for all.
All data on the site is from the census bureau, the New York State Department of Health and the New York State Planning and Research Cooperative System. The data were analyzed by Darrel Gaskin of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. The Opportunity Agenda, in partnership with a coalition of NYC health care advocates, assembled this map in response to the activities of The Berger Commission (aka the hospital closures commission), whose recommendations are now sitting on Gov. Spitzer’s desk. You can find more info on the Berger Commission here.
When we talk about health care policy in America, very rarely do we mention the roles that class and race play in determining our access to and the quality of health care that we receive. Hope you find the tool interesting and useful.