The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has released its annual County Health Rankings, which provide a “snapshot” of health for counties across the nation.

The interactive map platform displays county-level data on the most urgent health factors and health outcomes. As essential hospitals continue to work toward improving population health, this tool can be helpful for identifying the needs of the communities they serve.

The County Health Rankings include social and economic health determinants — such as education, housing, and employment — and provide state statistics on each of these measures. Individual state summary reports list more than 30 health-influencing factors and include suggestions for how to move from data to action, using online tools, databases, and webinars to improve state and county health conditions.

In addition to the newly released rankings, essential hospitals can use the 500 Cities Project — a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and RWJF — to promote and improve community health. The project identifies 27 health measures for the largest cities across the United States. These tools advance the process of needs assessment by providing specific health factors and outcomes by state, county, and/or city.

Another resource essential hospitals can use to promote and improve community health is the Essential Hospitals Institute’s Road Map to Community-Integrated Health Care. The road map, developed through funding from RWJF, highlights best practices and strategies to guide hospitals and health systems in population health improvement activities, including community needs assessment.

Essential hospitals can learn more about the road map and other population health tools during a preconference workshop entitled “Building Capacity for Population Health Improvements at Essential Hospitals” at VITAL 2017, America’s Essential Hospitals’ annual conference, June 21 – 23 in Chicago.