In seeking to bring the techniques of innovation to public health and the public health perspectives into healthcare innovation, Health Data Matters will incorporate both infographics and data visualization tools to best communicate Cleveland and Cuyahoga County health data via healthdatamatters.org. The “Health Data” section of the website includes data sets as well as infographics, among which asthma, premature birth, and infant mortality, currently exist. Three more infographics have been added to Health Data Matters to help tell the story about health disparities: diabetes, obesity, and education. The diabetes infographic summarizes how Black residents are disproportionately affected by diabetes, while the obesity infographic defines food deserts and depicts how geographic residence impacts differences in rates of obesity. Lastly, the education infographic paints the picture of what role education plays in health outcomes.
Infographics are visual representations of facts, events, and numbers, and can be used to depict health statistics, risk assessments, and resources to name a few. The application of visual pattern, illustration, and iconography enhance the way information is cognitively consumed. Therefore, infographics demand creativity such that they are designed with appeal and comprehension targeted to a particular audience, are context-specific, and center on relevant themes from a particular dataset.
The use of infographics in health communication can be seen in many forms on the Internet. The commonplace presence of infographics circulating around social media sites speaks to the ease with which these pictorial representations of health data are shared—as simple as one click, and health information can be distributed to previously unreachable audiences in an easily digestible, visual format.
For health data, infographics serve an important role for various reasons:
1. Compelling and attractive
Particularly when presenting health information that highlights a need for action (i.e. infant mortality, childhood obesity, safety, etc.), visual impact can play an important role in how memorable the information is to the reader. Ineffective presentation of data can turn off target audiences, resulting in missed messages. Infographics can demonstrate gravity and magnitude in captivating ways.
2. Easily viewed and shared
Data sets are often difficult for the general public to find. With the click of a mouse, health concepts and statistics can be shared virally, from any site to the next, on personal pages, or in journalistic formats; where raw data is much more difficult to interpret, communicate, and embed. Infographics are designed around themes and concepts that concisely tell a story, eliminating the need for sharers to reinvent.
Data sets can often be difficult to find via search engine. Because they are easier to share online than data sets themselves, infographics create increased opportunity for a given data source to be repeated over many sites.
4. Easy to understand
Arguably most important is the ability for visual representations of data to make health information relevant to many audiences. While accessibility can be literal in how people attain information, there is also the issue of complexity and level of understanding. Infographics provide the opportunity for both professional and citizen consumers to engage with health information that is equally relevant to both parties. By juxtaposing image and numbers, infographics offer a more equitable level of access for health messaging.
Data visualization differs slightly from infographics: data visualization is all about the numbers, abstracting data sets into schematics that clarify statistics in the form of graphs, maps or charts. These are usually constructed scientifically and automatically by software. Where infographics are designed to communicate a story, data visualization is less holistic and more quantifiable.
The goal of the Health Data Matters infographics is to increase awareness of the toll from health inequities, and motivate people to take action for change.
Ayanna Smith, BA
Case Western Reserve University, Urban Health Initiative & MPH Program
On January 31, 2021, Cleveland & Cuyahoga Health Data Matters (HDM) will terminate as a website. Going forward, visitors will be redirected to HealthyNeo.org.
1) When HDM was established in 2015, it was the only site available for comprehensive data on health and social determinants of health of the local population, with breakdowns available for disparity groups of interest and that could be examined at the zip code or census tract level. At this point, there are many sites across the country with some data like this.
2) The Healthy Northeast Ohio website (www.healthyneo.org) was launched in December 2019, as a neutral data repository for community health. Going forward, HDM will redirect to Healthy Northeast Ohio. Healthy Northeast Ohio aims to work with HDM data contributors to explore adding data to the site.
3) I am leaving the University at the end of January. While Scott Frank has been a full and equal partner since shortly after HDM was established, he agrees that transitioning to HealthyNeo.org is the best use of available resources.
We provided a single place where definitive and current data from all of the local health departments could be housed. This saved resources that health departments otherwise used to satisfy public requests for data.
An early champion of health data visualization, we were among the very first, through our partnership with LiveStories, to enable people to create maps and interactive charts without having to have or learn to use GIS and mapping software.
Anticipating widespread interest in social determinants of health, we made it possible to see the relationship of these determinants to health outcomes, thanks to the rich poverty data provided by NEOCANDO at the Mandel School.
Anticipating widespread interest in health disparities, we also provided data for subpopulations of interest, such as by race, education or age.
Anticipating widespread interest in racism as a public health crisis, we called attention, through data stories, to the tremendous segregation in our County, and the compounding impact of poor social determinants of health found in segregated neighborhoods.
Trained a generation of students (Scott especially!), government officials, and philanthropic and non-profit organizations to use aggregate data to examine population health, health disparities, and social determinants of health through a place-based lens.
Through the Cleveland Medical Hackathon, Amy trained a generation of health innovators to incorporate public health data consider the impact of their technology public health perspectives, and the value of public health data. She also helped public health organizations see ways to utilize real-time data and apps to streamline operations.
Scott and Matthew Kucmanic, our former graduate assistant, have identified important trends in opioid deaths, suicide, and requests for social services, thanks to data from the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Office and United Way 2-1-1.
Amy has raised awareness of the digital divide as a hidden social determinant of health that is an example of systemic racism that is likely to further exacerbate health disparities.
Finally, the desire to create a visceral Health Data Matters experience inspired the creation of the Neighborhood Immersion for Compassion and Empathy(NICE) Virtual Reality Simulation. Scott and Amy are both keen to facilitate sessions, via the internet for the time being, for groups seeking training to better understand racism, health disparities and the social determinants of health.
Scott’s contact information remains unchanged.