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First-of-its-kind web-based tool predicts which public health policies and programs provide the biggest improvements in health and costs

Companies mentioned in this article: HealthPartners

MINNEAPOLIS -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research, Partnership for Prevention and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have launched a groundbreaking web-based tool that predicts the health and economic impact of evidence-based public health interventions and policies at the county level.

The tool, called Community Health Advisor, is available at The site enables public health officials, employers, community leaders, policymakers and others to more accurately determine which public health policies and programs will have the greatest impact on health, mortality and medical costs on a county, state or national level.

“This tool is the first to provide estimates of future health outcomes and medical costs from public health interventions for every county in the country,” said George Isham, MD, senior advisor, HealthPartners, and member of the National Commission on Prevention Priorities. “It helps lawmakers, community leaders, employers and others make informed decisions about where to make public health investments.”

Any user can select among several tobacco- or physical activity-related interventions, choose what geographic area to apply, and calculate how people’s health and lifestyle choices would be affected by a particular policy change. The tool can project the benefits policy changes for up to 30 years.

For example, the tool projects that raising the per-pack cigarette tax by $1.20 in Los Angeles County would have the following benefits in one decade:

  • Reduce smoking prevalence by .71%
  • Save nearly $200 million in medical care costs
  • Prevent about 400 smoking-attributable deaths

“What if people in our community smoked less and were more active?” asked Eduardo Sanchez, MD, chair, National Commission on Prevention Priorities and deputy chief medical officer of the American Heart Association. “This tool provides detailed information on the number of cases of heart disease or diabetes that could be prevented, the years of life that could be gained, and how many dollars could be put to better use. It is an important resource to help health professionals, elected officials, community leaders, employers and others make informed decisions about where to invest in health.”

Community Health Advisor uses data such as rates of smoking and obesity applied to a sample of 13 million lives that represent the U.S. population. Demographic and health data are from sources such as the U.S. Census and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Community Health Advisor is powered by ModelHealthTM, a set of health economics models built over 15 years by researchers at the HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research. The models address obesity, tobacco use, cardiovascular disease and many others.

Community Health Advisor is the product of a strategic collaboration among the National Commission on Prevention Priorities, HealthPartners, Partnership for Prevention, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Community Health Advisor translates the scientific evidence for the health and economic benefits of proven active living and tobacco control interventions into a tool that health leaders and advocates can customize to build a culture of health in their own communities,” says RWJF senior scientist Tracy Orleans, Ph.D. “It’s an outstanding example of practical research-to-practice translation.”

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