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Big Data Days

Big Data Days

These are great times for people who spend a lot of time delving into data about health and health care. Like, say, the Colorado Health Institute team.

A number of new data sets have been released in recent weeks, each providing a different take on the health of Colorado, our residents and our communities.

The 2015 Colorado Health Report Card, the 2015 Kids Count in Colorado!, the 2015 County Health Rankings and the 2015 workforce counts from the Department of Regulatory Affairs are all out now, ready to support the analysis that is so important as Colorado targets efforts to allow everyone to be as healthy as possible.

We’ll start with our annual updating of county-level counts of actively licensed health care professionals in Colorado for 22 different professions. We download workforce licensure data from the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA). The DORA database changes daily as professionals update their license status. We download the data at the same point annually to ensure consistency across time and to compare changes from one year to the next. This year, the data were downloaded on January 5, the first business day of 2015.

The updated licensure data can be downloaded as Excel workbooks here. Workbooks include a total of actively licensed professionals, the number of new licenses in the past calendar year, and a count of net gains and losses.

The new data show that:

- Colorado gained 333 actively licensed physicians during 2014, reaching a total of 15,155 – about 2.8 physicians for each 1,000 residents.

- The number of licensed nurse practitioners increased by 266 between January 2014 and January 2015, which is the largest net gain in nurse practitioners since CHI began tracking them in 2008.

- The number of licensed social workers in the state increased by 300 in 2014. This is the largest net increase in the number of licensed social workers since 2008. This increase follows the only year that Colorado saw a decrease in the number of licensed social workers. Colorado has 957 licensed social workers.

- Colorado saw its first net loss of licensed physical therapists during 2014, which saw a drop of 130 physical therapists. This net decrease occurred despite having 215 newly licensed physical therapists during 2014, which is a consistent number of newly licensed physical therapists with earlier years.

The 2015 Colorado Health Report Card – a collaboration between the Colorado Health Foundation and the Colorado Health Institute – is a yearly update of Colorado’s progress on 38 key indicators across five life stages. This report was released on February 5. You can also download Excel workbooks with in-depth data for each of the five life stages. 

This year, analysis of data from the Health Report Card will continue throughout the year with Data Spotlight reports.

The first Data Spotlight for the 2015 Colorado Health Report Card, Extra Credit: Get Activehighlights physical activity indicators across life stages and profiles areas where public health is working to increase physical activity.

The Colorado Children’s Campaign released its 2015 Kids Count in Colorado! report on March 23. In its 22nd year of publication, the report provides state-level and county-level data on Colorado’s kids. In addition to health, the report covers the social determinants of health such as education and economic status.

This year’s big finding? Seventeen percent of Colorado children lived in poverty in 2013, down one percentage point from 2012.  Even so, the changes in child poverty vary across the state with an increased poverty rate in rural areas, climbing to 23 percent from 20 percent in 2007 at the start of the recession. Poverty rates increased in urban areas, increasing to 19 percent from 18 percent in 2007.

The 2015 County Health Rankings, a program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, measure health in two ways: health factors and health outcomes. The majority of counties in the United States are scored on these two measures.  Sixty of Colorado’s 64 counties are given a rank. Douglas County ranks first in health factors again this year, but Pitkin County now ranks number one in health outcomes.  Counties in the San Luis Valley such as Costilla and Conejos rank among the bottom for both factors.

By ranking counties in health factors and the outcomes they influence, the County Health Rankings provide community leaders with data to continue efforts to improve their score.  Check your county’s score at www.countyhealthrankings.org.  

Here at CHI, we’re excited to have newly updated resources for our analytical work. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Colorado Health Institute for help interpreting the data or understanding what it means for Colorado’s progress.