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Miles Away, Worlds Apart: Assessing Community Health Needs with exploreMOhealth — 2023


Christy Hoehner LG

Christy Hoehner

Senior Data Scientist



HIDI HealthStats


  • Data & Analytics
  • Population Health
  • Research


HIDI HealthStats population health research

The places where we live, work, learn and play affect our health. Examples throughout this brief show that communities separated by a distance of a few miles can be worlds apart in terms of upstream health factors that result in downstream health outcomes, such as poor quality of life and premature mortality. The more that is known about these places, the better hospitals, clinicians and community-based partners can identify and address the influence of these factors on health. Assessing hundreds of community health and social factors across and within Missouri counties is a powerful strategy for optimizing the allocation of scarce resources to maximize the effectiveness of community health improvement efforts.

The traditional delivery of health care is moving beyond just treatment within the walls of hospitals and into managing the health of populations in the community. Health care providers increasingly are focusing on upstream social determinants of health that often lead to poor health outcomes. This focus is driven in part by regulations that require hospitals to work with public health experts, such as local public health agencies, to develop community health needs assessments and improvement plans to maintain their not-for-profit status. In recent years, regulations have expanded to include explicit focus on strategies and tools to help hospitals and communities understand and address health disparities among vulnerable and underserved populations. Altogether, these factors are expediting the collaborative delivery of care across the continuum — integrating voices from public health, social service and community action organizations. It is critical that these collaborative efforts are founded on insightful, firm data that identify areas of need within different populations and across geographic locations.

In March 2018, the Missouri Hospital Association, Hospital Industry Data Institute and Missouri Foundation for Health released exploreMOhealth, a CHNA platform developed through a partnership with the University of Missouri’s Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems. The platform is designed to assist community health stakeholders in the development of impactful CHNAs using the Missouri ZIP Health Rankings, a rich data source unique to Missouri that was developed by HIDI and the Washington University School of Medicine.

Through a partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, the exploreMOhealth platform offers the latest CHR data for Missouri’s 114 counties and St. Louis City.

Since its launch, exploreMOhealth has been queried more than 37,000 times by 23,000 individual users, resulting in more than 92,000 page views. Community health stakeholders from a variety of disciplines — hospitals, regional health commissions, local public health and community action organizations — are using the site to gain hyperlocal insights on the health and social well-being of their communities.


View data for 935 Missouri ZIP codes at

HIDI HealthStats are applied research briefs developed from HIDI data assets targeting relevant topics related to health policy and population health.

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