Impact Stories

Utah Healthy Places Index Honored With 2023 NACDD Chronic Disease Innovator Impact Award

Impact Story | October 31, 2023
California, (Public Health Alliance of Southern CA)-- We are thrilled to announce that the Utah Healthy Places Index (Utah HPI), a joint project between the Public Health Alliance of Southern California (Public Health Alliance) and the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), is being honored with the 2023 Chronic Disease Innovator Impact Award by the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD). The Chronic Disease Innovator Award is given to a state, tribal, or territorial Chronic Disease Unit that demonstrates an innovative approach to reducing the burden of chronic disease prevention and control. This prestigious recognition highlights the powerful role the California Healthy Places Index (HPI) and its iterations play in improving health in underserved communities, cementing its reputation as a leading model of health innovation nationwide.
"I'd like to thank the Public Health Alliance for their groundbreaking work on the California Healthy Places Index. Inspired by the original HPI, our Utah version helps us better understand and address the unique health needs of our communities and streamlines the data-to-action processes.  Seeing the success of the HPI and its iterations in guiding community-driven solutions where they make the greatest impact, I truly hope other states adopt the HPI framework to innovate public health responses."

— Sarah Hodson, Deputy Director, Office of Health Promotion and Prevention, Utah Department of Health and Human Services

The HPI has emerged as a cornerstone in community health promotion — directing over $4.2 billion in equitable investments and influencing over 300 cross-sector policies and programs throughout California. The Utah HPI is built on the experience and depth of the HPI.  Designed to promote health equity and ease the identification of problems and discovery of solutions, the HPI is a robust data mapping and policy platform that provides an in-depth comparison of health-promoting conditions across California neighborhoods.

When Utah expressed interest in a custom version of the HPI, the Public Health Alliance swiftly rose to the occasion. Leveraging our established HPI platform, we collaborated with DHHS to develop a version tuned to the unique community conditions that impact health in the state.  This provides Utah’s policymakers, academic researchers, and community leaders with unparalleled insights into health disparities and areas primed for transformative change. With the help of the Public Health Alliance, DHHS created training guides, and within nine months of its launch, 1,800 people were trained to use the Utah HPI.

Notably, the HPI is the only neighborhood-level map in the U.S. that ties its 23 key drivers of health indicators—associated with life expectancy at birth—to specific policy action recommendations, all presented through a positive, asset-based framing. This approach emphasizes the strengths, resources, and opportunities available in a community rather than focusing on the problems faced.
"Through the Utah HPI, we've showcased that the HPI model's tailored approach to health equity can drive significant community health improvements.  The success of HPI and its suite of products in both California and Utah highlights the promise of state-specific HPIs in advancing health equity nationwide. What sets HPI apart is its customizable and adaptable framework. Our experience with Utah has refined our approach to crafting state-adjusted HPIs. Our goal with HPI is to forge a healthier future, one state at a time.”

—Helen Dowling, MPH, Director of Data Initiatives at the Public Health Alliance

The Utah HPI’s NACDD accolade isn’t just an acknowledgment of the HPI; it's a celebration of both the DHHS and the Public Health Alliance's shared belief in harnessing data for action. Through tools like the HPI, we're reminded that beneath data points lie stories of communities and the promise of a healthier, more equitable tomorrow. We look forward to seeing how the Utah HPI continues to evolve and foster change in the future!

Interested in learning more about the process of developing a state-specific HPI? Reach out to Helen Dowling, MPH,  Director of Data Initiatives at the Public Health Alliance. Email: hdowling@phi.org