At a time of uncertainty and a quickly-changing landscape, the HPI was a North Star

March 27, 2022

For over two years now, we have been examining the unsettling feedback loop between long-standing, and for the most part racially driven, inequities and the COVID-19 pandemic. We have discussed the many ways in which communities were already at a disadvantage before COVID, and are now experiencing additional setbacks as the economy slows down and people experience the short- and long-term symptoms of the coronavirus.  

From the start, the Public Health Alliance of Southern California (Public Health Alliance) was able to combat this challenge head on because of our previous work on health equity and racial justice. The Healthy Places Index (HPI) has allowed us to connect issues of race and place through data in a way that brings our communities’ strengths and assets to the forefront. The nature of our work allowed us to quickly and appropriately respond to the needs of our communities during such a tumultuous time.

This uncertain period demanded a steep learning curve from all of us, and for many the HPI became an invaluable resource to respond to the time. The index, map and policy recommendations helped communities trace a data- and evidence-based path to equity in an ever-shifting landscape.  

As we launch the third release of the HPI, we wanted to take a look back at some of the ways the index helped public health leaders at the state and local levels reduce the impact of inequities exacerbated by the pandemic and, ultimately, save lives.

At the state level, the HPI helped the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) track and monitor trends to focus policy and investment in communities most impacted by COVID. Using data provided through HPI, CDPH created its Health Equity Metric (HEM). The HEM was used as part of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy plan to determine when it was safe for communities to reopen businesses, services and other facilities. It was also used to direct approximately $272 million in federal COVID funding to disproportionately impacted areas and communities.

The HEM’s success prompted the state to adapt the HPI to create its Vaccine Equity Metric to allocate initially limited vaccine supplies, including directing 40% of vaccine doses to areas with the lowest health equity. According to Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna, Deputy Director of CDPH’s Office of Health Equity, this meant 800 daily shots in arms of people who would not otherwise have been prioritized early on.

At the local level, multiple counties from San Diego to Marin used the HPI’s granular data to monitor COVID impact, vaccine coverage and demand. The HPI helped counties prioritize hundreds of millions of dollars in targeted investments to communities with the least healthy conditions. A few examples of this include:

  • Los Angeles used the HPI to help vaccinate communities hardest hit by COVID, identify which community groups to partner with, and tailor education strategies.
  • Riverside used the HPI to prioritize vaccine allocation to disproportionately impacted communities such as migrant farmworkers.
  • San Francisco’s Feeding Unit used HPI to help map and protect disproportionately impacted residents from hunger.

Healthcare providers also used the HPI to direct care, resources, and support to vulnerable populations:

  1. Sutter Health used the HPI to create their COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Solutions (CVEI) tool to determine the vaccination rate needed to overcome COVID’s inequitable impact, which helped prioritize vaccinations to those most in need. Sutter also created the Institute for Advancing Health Equity, which is informed by HPI data.
  2. John Muir Health, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) with more than 1,000 primary care and specialist physicians, used HPI’s hyper-local data to prioritize the locations and rollout of their Mobile Health Clinic for vaccine distribution. They have specifically directed their outreach to communities in the lowest HPI quartile with the least healthy community conditions.

You can learn more about how the HPI enabled organizations across California to respond to the pandemic equitably in our case study: Directing Scarce COVID Resources to Neighborhoods with Most Need.

HPI BLOG

At a time of uncertainty and a quickly-changing landscape, the HPI was a North Star

March 27, 2022

For over two years now, we have been examining the unsettling feedback loop between long-standing, and for the most part racially driven, inequities and the COVID-19 pandemic. We have discussed the many ways in which communities were already at a disadvantage before COVID, and are now experiencing additional setbacks as the economy slows down and people experience the short- and long-term symptoms of the coronavirus.  

From the start, the Public Health Alliance of Southern California (Public Health Alliance) was able to combat this challenge head on because of our previous work on health equity and racial justice. The Healthy Places Index (HPI) has allowed us to connect issues of race and place through data in a way that brings our communities’ strengths and assets to the forefront. The nature of our work allowed us to quickly and appropriately respond to the needs of our communities during such a tumultuous time.

This uncertain period demanded a steep learning curve from all of us, and for many the HPI became an invaluable resource to respond to the time. The index, map and policy recommendations helped communities trace a data- and evidence-based path to equity in an ever-shifting landscape.  

As we launch the third release of the HPI, we wanted to take a look back at some of the ways the index helped public health leaders at the state and local levels reduce the impact of inequities exacerbated by the pandemic and, ultimately, save lives.

At the state level, the HPI helped the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) track and monitor trends to focus policy and investment in communities most impacted by COVID. Using data provided through HPI, CDPH created its Health Equity Metric (HEM). The HEM was used as part of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy plan to determine when it was safe for communities to reopen businesses, services and other facilities. It was also used to direct approximately $272 million in federal COVID funding to disproportionately impacted areas and communities.

The HEM’s success prompted the state to adapt the HPI to create its Vaccine Equity Metric to allocate initially limited vaccine supplies, including directing 40% of vaccine doses to areas with the lowest health equity. According to Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna, Deputy Director of CDPH’s Office of Health Equity, this meant 800 daily shots in arms of people who would not otherwise have been prioritized early on.

At the local level, multiple counties from San Diego to Marin used the HPI’s granular data to monitor COVID impact, vaccine coverage and demand. The HPI helped counties prioritize hundreds of millions of dollars in targeted investments to communities with the least healthy conditions. A few examples of this include:

  • Los Angeles used the HPI to help vaccinate communities hardest hit by COVID, identify which community groups to partner with, and tailor education strategies.
  • Riverside used the HPI to prioritize vaccine allocation to disproportionately impacted communities such as migrant farmworkers.
  • San Francisco’s Feeding Unit used HPI to help map and protect disproportionately impacted residents from hunger.

Healthcare providers also used the HPI to direct care, resources, and support to vulnerable populations:

  1. Sutter Health used the HPI to create their COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Solutions (CVEI) tool to determine the vaccination rate needed to overcome COVID’s inequitable impact, which helped prioritize vaccinations to those most in need. Sutter also created the Institute for Advancing Health Equity, which is informed by HPI data.
  2. John Muir Health, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) with more than 1,000 primary care and specialist physicians, used HPI’s hyper-local data to prioritize the locations and rollout of their Mobile Health Clinic for vaccine distribution. They have specifically directed their outreach to communities in the lowest HPI quartile with the least healthy community conditions.

You can learn more about how the HPI enabled organizations across California to respond to the pandemic equitably in our case study: Directing Scarce COVID Resources to Neighborhoods with Most Need.