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Informing Policy. Advancing Health.

The 2013 Colorado Health Report Card: A Useful Policy Tool

After its long-awaited arrival, The 2013 Colorado Health Report Card has been released.

The Report Card – a collaboration between the Colorado Health Foundation and the Colorado Health Institute – is an annual update on the health of Coloradans.

After working on my first Colorado Health Report Card in 2012, I was thrilled to learn that I would be managing the 2013 iteration. I felt fortunate to be working on a project that helps us frame our work – collectively and independently – and provides insights around the magnitude of the challenge we face to become the healthiest in the nation.

My position wasn’t the only change to the Report Card this year. The role of the report card evolved as well. We have historically viewed this publication as a tool for measuring how Colorado compares to other states when it comes to 38 important health indicators. But the long-term vision has always been to make this report a useful policy tool, and there are several new features of this year’s report card that make that happen.

The Supplement to the 2013 Report Card, A Roadmap to Number One, highlights indicators that greatly contribute to health – youth physical activity, mental health and health insurance coverage – and profiles innovative, effective policies and programs being implemented by other states in these key areas.

Another element of this year’s Report Card that we are excited to share is the ‘What if We Were Number One’ calculations. It may be hard to wrap your head around an ‘A’ or a ‘B,’ so we quantified the impact of being the healthiest state in the nation by estimating the number of lives that would be impacted if Colorado had a ranking on par with the best state for each indicator.

An example? If Colorado ranked Number One instead of 18th formental health, 137,600 fewer adults would report poor mental health. This provides us with a tangible and achievable goal.

These two elements of the 2013 Colorado Health Report Card, as well as others, provide context around what it means for us to become the healthiest state in the nation and insights into how we should target our efforts.

This year, data from the Report Card is available in downloadable Excel workbooks on CHI’s website, along with the supplement, “A Roadmap to Number One,” five “Behind the Numbers” publications and, of course, the Report Card itself. Follow along with the launch on Twitter: @COHealthInst and #COHRC.