Creating a Statewide Community Health Monitoring System for New York State
Building Healthy Communities
September 24, 2015
In 2014, NYHealth launched the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund, an initiative to build healthy and active communities across New York State.
NYHealth is investing $2 million in the initiative, which spans six communities and supports projects to increase residents’ access to healthy, affordable food options, opportunities for physical activity, and other programs that encourage healthy living. To learn which programs are most effective, NYHealth also is supporting an evaluation of the Healthy Neighborhoods Fund that will help substantiate the importance of investing in the built environment and healthy food access in a community. In 2015, NYHealth awarded a grant to New York University School of Medicine (NYU) to develop a monitoring system to measure community-level population health as a way to understand what it takes to achieve health at both neighborhood and statewide levels.
Under this grant, NYU created a statewide community health monitoring system to track behavioral health changes in neighborhoods across the State. Specifically, the monitoring system tracked aspects such as residents’ activity levels and consumption of healthy foods. Tools to gather this information included activity trackers, mobile applications for smart phones, and motion-sensitive cameras. By developing a monitoring system, key stakeholders had the data to make informed decisions about the health of a population in a specific neighborhood, such as which neighborhoods are faring better than others and what can be done at the neighborhood level to facilitate improvements in health behaviors. This evaluation project helped communities understand the health of their populations, assess how policy and program implementations affect health outcomes, and compare health outcomes of different communities.