Community Indicators for Your Community

Real, lasting community change is built around knowing where you are, where you want to be, and whether your efforts are making a difference. Indicators are a necessary ingredient for sustainable change. And the process of selecting community indicators -- who chooses, how they choose, what they choose -- is as important as the data you select.

This is an archive of thoughts I had about indicators and the community indicators movement. Some of the thinking is outdated, and many of the links may have broken over time.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Community Health Profiles and Indicator Guides in England

I thought you might be interested in seeing the work done by the Association of Public Health Observatories in creating Health Profiles for every local council in England. One of the highlights of the site is their work on a Good Indicators Guide. I'll talk about the profiles first, and then the guide.

From the site:

Health Profiles provide a snapshot of health for each local council in England using key health indicators, which enables comparison locally, regionally and over time. They are designed to help local councils and the NHS decide where to target resources to tackle health inequalities in their local area.

To view an interactive version of the Health Profiles for England click to view an interactive map. This will allow you to select indicators and areas for comparison through a map or list.

The maps are provided at a regional, county, or district level. They also provide PDF versions of the profiles, which they point out may differ from the interactive maps.

The maps are straightforward and simple to use, and the data provided a decent sampling of information. Not being from England, I would have liked more contextual data to understand some of the demographics better. But tossing in some of the social determinant information and other extra bits of information was interesting -- carbon emissions in a health profile? Neat.

The Good Indicators Guide has a great Forward.

As leaders, we have a responsibility to know the essential data and information better than anyone else. We need our teams and organisations to be able to capture, interpret and communicate the essence of any situation in order to make the right decisions at the right time. The indicators we use and choose therefore need to be carefully designed to be practical, complete, valid and robust so we can concentrate on those areas that need further investigation. In short, we need to sort the wheat from the chaff in the information overload world we now live in. This short guide focuses on the key principles behind developing, understanding and using indicators. It is designed to be an essential and readable guide to those in senior positions who may not always feel entirely comfortable with this important area in healthcare leadership.

That same clarity and succinctness is found in sentences like "[W]e all love indicators when they seem to summarise and bring summary/simplicity, but not when they judge us, or something dear to us." The guide dives into "the anatomy of an indicator" and "four things to know about indicators." It's a must-have for anyone working with indicators -- and it's free to download!

Check it out!


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