Louisville, KY – The Greater Louisville Project (GLP) issued a report today that connects the health of Louisville’s residents to the city’s progress and competitiveness. For the first time, the GLP assesses the health of Louisville compared with 14 peer cities that have long served as its competitive peers.
The Special Report on Health, “Building a Healthier Louisville,” explores the connections between health and the Deep Drivers of Change: Education, 21st Century Jobs and Quality of Place. The Deep Drivers, identified by the GLP, are ambitious yet attainable metrics that can help advance Louisville’s long-term progress.
Perhaps one of the most significant findings in the report is the connection between health and education. While it is well known that education leads to better jobs and higher income, the report shows a direct relationship between educational attainment and reduced risk of illness, increased vitality and longevity.
Louisville ranks tenth of 15 in the Health Outcomes score, which is a combined factor of mortality (length of life) and morbidity (health during life). The GLP report outlines four categories of health factors that impact a community’s health outcomes: social and economic, health behaviors, clinical care and physical environment. The report also identifies the most strategic challenges for Louisville in each of these factors and suggests that focusing on these key challenges can affect the greatest improvement in the community’s health outcomes.
Health connected to competitiveness
“This report is the first to connect health to our city’s competitiveness and to identify specific factors, that if changed, can bring the greatest impact for future Louisvillians,” said Christen Boone, director of the Greater Louisville Project. “Our objective is to spark conversation, help narrow the focus and catalyze action around how Louisville can improve our physical health, and ultimately our economic health as well.”
The report utilized a framework created by County Health Rankings, a project supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropic organization devoted to public health. As a collaborative project between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, County Health Rankings provides data and rankings for counties across the country, ranked within their state, but this is the first report to utilize data and methodology across competitive cities. A team of epidemiologists from County Health Rankings identified and provided weighting for the indicators for health outcomes, as well as the indicators within each of the four factors.
The GLP convened an 18-member Health Advisory Group, comprised of leaders from the public and private sector, including officials from Jefferson County Public Schools, the Department of Metro Public Health & Wellness, major employers such as GE and Humana, local hospitals, the physician community, and neighborhood groups. The advisory group provided insight and feedback to assist in identifying Louisville’s most strategic health challenges within the data presented.
“This report will be helpful because people understand rankings, but also can get overwhelmed with facts and figures,” said Sandra E. Brooks, MD, MBA, system vice president research and prevention, Norton Healthcare and Health Advisory Group member. “The Special Report on Health provides accessible, credible information that people can use as a ‘jumping off’ point for serious discussion about how we approach health and wellness for our community.”
Four key factors in life expectancy
The report revealed that in terms of life expectancy, place does matter. In the course of the project, review of the most recent Louisville Metro Health Equity Report revealed sharp differences in health outcomes by income, race and neighborhood. Factors, including educational attainment, high unemployment, poor access to healthcare and low investment in the built environment can impact life expectancy, by as much as 13 years across neighborhoods.
The report identifies four factors that need to be addressed to improve health outcomes in Louisville where people live, work and learn. Louisville’s most strategic challenges within each of the four factors were also identified: Social and Economic, Health Behaviors, Clinical Care and Physical Environment.
The report suggests steps for consideration:
• The GLP’s work on Education led Louisville to a shared agenda focused on educational attainment. Louisville should develop a similar shared agenda for Health and a new framework for collaboration and accountability.
• Louisville should pursue “Health in all Policies,” understanding that educational policy, employment policy, land-use policy (as much as healthcare policy itself) will have a significant impact on health outcomes as well.
• Everyone in the community has a stake in improving health outcomes, and improving those outcomes will improve our economic health as well.
The Greater Louisville Project will invite community discussion about the ways to impact community health and Louisville’s competitiveness through online forums and group presentations such as an Innovation Lab at Idea Festival on Tuesday, September 24. Visit www.greaterlouisvilleproject.org for more information.
For more than a decade, The Greater Louisville Project has provided research and data analysis to catalyze action and engage the community in a shared agenda for long-term progress.
The GLP is an independent, non-partisan initiative supported by a consortium of philanthropic foundations including The James Graham Brown Foundation, Brown-Forman, The C. E. & S. Foundation, Gheens Foundation, The Community Foundation of Louisville, The Humana Foundation, The JP Morgan Chase Foundation and the Stephen Reily and Emily Bingham Fund. The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky provided additional support to underwrite the report.
The report was prepared by staff of the Greater Louisville Project: Christen Boone, Elisabeth Alkire and Rebecca Brady, with special assistance by the Health Advisory Group:
Gabriela Alcade, MPH, DrPH, and Susan Zepeda, PhD, with the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky; Donna Church and Diana Han, M.D. – GE; Lelan K. Woodmansee, CAE, with the Greater Louisville Medical Society; Erik Anderson, Stuart Mushala and John Schriber of Humana; Bonnie Ciarroccki, MAT, MCHES, and Dewey Hensley of Jefferson County Public Schools; Teresa Campbell and Randa Deaton of Kentuckiana Health Collaborative; Alice Bridges and Tom Walton at KentuckyOne Health; Dana Jackson of Network Center for Community Change (NC3); LaQuandra S. Nesbitt, MD, MPH – Louisville Metro Public Health & Wellness; Sandra E. Brooks, MD, MBA, Norton Healthcare; Rob Steiner, MD, PhD, and Craig H. Blakely, PhD, MPH – University of Louisville.