NJHA Develops Health Profiles for New Jersey's 21 Counties

Mar 15, 2012, 10:12 ET from New Jersey Hospital Association

PRINCETON, N.J., March 15, 2012  /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The New Jersey Hospital Association has developed comprehensive health profiles for each of New Jersey's 21 counties. The profiles serve as valuable planning tools for healthcare organizations to best meet the needs of their local communities.

The 2012 County Health Profiles series was developed by NJHA's Health Research and Educational Trust of New Jersey, a nonprofit affiliate that supports statewide public health and community health improvement, including issues such as health disparities and access to care.

Each profile includes data on county demographics, socioeconomic measures, public safety and an array of health and healthcare indicators such as health insurance coverage, maternal and child health, immunizations, risky behaviors and diseases and mortality. More than 350 different measures are examined and compared with state averages to identify gaps. Information is drawn from many local, state and federal sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, the N.J. departments of Health and Senior Services, Human Services and Labor, as well as Healthcare Quality Strategies Inc.

"Knowing your community and its unique health needs is essential to providing the best possible healthcare services," said NJHA President and CEO Betsy Ryan. "This information also is critical for effectively allocating scarce resources, especially in the current economic climate."

NJHA introduced its series of county profiles in 1995. But the resource takes on an added dimension in 2012, with a new federal reporting requirement looming for hospitals next year. The new requirement is part of the federal healthcare reform law and falls under the Internal Revenue Service. It requires not-for-profit hospitals that have tax-exempt status to conduct an official community health needs assessment every three years, beginning in March 2013.

NJHA's County Health Profiles provide valuable data and information for organizations embarking on a community health needs assessment. NJHA intends to update the profiles every three years to coincide with the IRS requirement.

"New Jersey hospitals develop programs and partnerships to meet the unique healthcare, social and welfare needs of their communities," said Firoozeh Vali, Ph.D., NJHA's vice president of research. "But to be effective, they must first be fully aware of the characteristics of the communities they serve. This is done through routine assessment of the community's strengths and weaknesses, awareness of existing community assets and identification of gaps and areas of unmet need. The County Health Profiles provide essential information for those community assessments."

NJHA provides complimentary copies of the profiles to its members to support their community health planning. Other organizations may purchase copies of individual profiles or the complete series of 21 New Jersey counties. The resource is available in hard copy or on CD-ROM, which allows users to manipulate the data for various uses. Contact research@njha.com or visit www.njha.com/research/pdf/countyhealthprofiles.pdf to order.

SOURCE New Jersey Hospital Association