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West Virginia Health Data Portal

Summary 
  • Need: Lack of access to easily obtain current data for the state and region, in particular data on the healthcare workforce and healthcare facilities.
  • Intervention: A statewide health data portal developed by a rural health association.
  • Results: Large amounts of timely data and trend analysis, which allows for informed decision making, are now available to people throughout the state of West Virginia.

Description

West Virginia Rural Health Association logo The mission of the West Virginia Rural Health Association (WVRHA) is to unite people, communities, and organizations in order to strengthen rural health in West Virginia. To do this more effectively and efficiently, WVRHA established the West Virginia Health Data Portal in 2013. Contained within this portal is a variety of information, including health workforce data, data on healthcare facilities, demographics, and more. Vast amounts of knowledge are put at the fingertips of people across the state so they are able to make informed decisions. This is the first health data portal of its kind in the nation that offers such in-depth, free, detailed information. Hosted on WVRHA's website, the portal is not only useful to patients, but also to government entities, businesses, researchers, grant writers, and healthcare providers in West Virginia and surrounding counties in Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

While much of the basic information is free for anyone to access, there is a deeper level of information contained within the portal that is only available to organizational or health-related professional WVRHA members. For example, only the top two membership levels have access to a tool allowing them to sort the data down to a zip code level, ensuring they get the most applicable information. These members also have the ability to encrypt and store data on the portal. A top level individual membership is $50/year, while a top level organizational membership is $250/year.

The data contained within the portal has been used for a variety of purposes: community assessments, grant writing, research, economic development, business building, and workforce assessments. WVRHA is committed to updating and expanding the portal information each year so all data is useful and relevant.

Initial funding for the portal came from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. This allowed WVRHA to contract services for the technology components of the portal with the National Center for the Analysis of Healthcare Data.

Other sources of funding for some of the initial health data portal projects came from the following:

In 2014, WVRHA received another grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to expand the portal to include 13 additional medical disciplines.

Services offered

Training is offered throughout the state of West Virginia 10 to 12 times a year. This educates people regarding what is available in the portal and how to access the information. The portal allows users to search for:

  • Economic information
  • Demographic information
  • Health factors ranking scores
  • Vital statistics
  • Healthcare workforce supply and demand data
  • Federal shortage designations
  • American Community Survey data
  • Healthcare facilities, such as Federal Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics
  • Number of providers and distance to healthcare facilities for many medical specialties, including dentists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, ophthalmologists, and gynecologists
  • Visual representation of key pieces of information, such as impact of the aging workforce
  • Other political and administrative data

The portal also includes 2 unique tools:

  • The drive-distance tool, which estimates driving time between 2 or more points on a map (takes into account terrain and roads)
  • The service area tool, which allows users to pinpoint a spot on the map and determine what health services are available to them within a certain distance

Data for the following disciplines has also been made available via the portal:

  • Audiologists
  • Advance Practice Registered Nurses
  • Chiropractors
  • Dental Hygienists
  • Diabetic Educators
  • Dietitians
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Optometrists
  • Paramedics
  • Psychiatrists
  • Podiatrists
  • Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Social Workers
  • Primary Care Workforce
  • Family Resource Networks
  • Emergency Services
  • Fresh Food Markets vs. Fast Food Restaurants
  • Bus Transportation Routes

A tutorial for new users to portal is also available on the WVRHA website. A hardcopy of the tutorial can be mailed upon request.

Results

  • Provides large amounts of detailed data in 307 data sets to residents of West Virginia and surrounding border counties
  • Since the portal was created, membership has grown from 86 members in 2012 to over 700 members
  • The portal serves as a business builder or economic development tool when communities are seeking to attract new businesses

Barriers

  • An initial challenge in setting up the portal was determining what types of information to include in it
  • A challenge today is the difficulty communicating to organizations what the health data portal is and why it would be valuable to them

Replication

  • Undertake a supply and demand study of your healthcare workforce and let the data dictate the initial content of the portal
  • Provide objective data, letting the data speak for itself
  • If someone tells you the data is incorrect, be open to constructive criticism and finding a better source of data

WVRHA hosts an annual West Virginia Rural Health Conference. View more details here.

Contact Information

Debrin Jenkins, Executive Director
West Virginia Rural Health Association
304.890.7017
debrinwvrha@gmail.com

Topics
Healthcare facilities
Healthcare workforce
Statistics and data

States served
West Virginia

Date added
July 20, 2015

Date updated or reviewed
July 10, 2018


Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.