There’s a thirteen-year gap in life expectancy among residents in differing Louisville neighborhoods (2011 Louisville Metro Health Equity Report). This gap is not only seen on geographical lines, but can be identified when comparing race and resident income levels as well.
The Greater Louisville Project (GLP) harnesses data like this to help engage the community to focus on developing a shared agenda for long-term progress. In 2013, the GLP issued a health report that applied the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation County Health Rankings to Louisville, which measures the contributing factors to morbidity and mortality.
The results were startling. Louisville ranked 10th out of its 15 peer cities in health outcomes. Much of that ranking was driven by Louisville’s abysmal ranking among its peers in terms of health behavior, in particular smoking (14th out of 15) and obesity (14th out of 15).
In 2015, the Greater Louisville Project hopes to use that information as a call to arms for a Collective Impact approach to community engagement on those and other health issues, including access to primary care physicians, where Louisville currently ranks eighth out of 15.
GLP will be reaching out to physicians, medical systems, insurers, employers and others involved in the health ecosystem to come together to assess how best to leverage our community assets and where there are gaps, utilizing a framework known as Collective Impact.
GLP’s director Ben Reno-Weber explained, “Health on all levels can be linked to Louisville’s identified Deep Drivers of Change: Educational Attainment, 21st Century Jobs, and Quality of Place. In a nutshell, healthier students achieve higher academic success, a healthier workforce is more productive and efficient, and in turn makes Louisville more attractive as a hub for growing 21st century jobs. We all have a stake in that.”
Focus on Data
The Collective Impact model calls together leaders from across the community to identify the metrics that matter, and then regularly brings that same group together to examine progress. By relentlessly focusing on data, Collective Impact avoids many of the subjective judgments that have hamstrung other community efforts.
“The real potential of Louisville is that there are already established community partnerships whose network and good work can be leveraged,” said Reno-Weber. “By helping to focus on data, GLP hopes to support groups like the Kentuckiana Health Collaborative, the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement and others in focusing on the highest impact, most evidence-based approaches.”
A new mapping of the community partners in each of the indicators within the RWJ County Health Rankings will be available in 2015. Access to the Greater Louisville Project’s 2013 Community Health Report can be found at www.greaterlouisville project.org.
About the GLP
The Greater Louisville Project is an independent, non-partisan civic initiative supported by a consortium of foundations. GLP’s mission is to act as a catalyst for action, providing research, data and analytic tools in support of the agenda for long-term progress as outlined in the 2002 Brookings Institution Report, Beyond Merger: A Competitive Vision for the Regional City of Louisville.
Kelsie Smithson is operations manager at the Greater Louisville Project.