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UCLA Web Tool Advances Goal of Democratizing Data

November 24, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research has created a new web tool that will allow access to comprehensive California health statistics by ZIP code, city and legislative district.

The AskCHIS Neighborhood Edition, or AskCHIS NE, enables users to customize searches, compare and “pool” small geographic areas, and map and chart their results, UCLA officials said in a news release. The tool is a service of the center’s renowned California Health Interview Survey, the nation’s largest state health survey.

AskCHIS NE— sponsored by grants from Kaiser Permanente and the California Wellness Foundation— covers a wide range of health topics, including rates of health insurance, chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes, and behaviors like smoking and physical activity; quality of children’s health; and access to healthcare and mental healthcare.

The tool drills down even deeper than AskCHIS, allowing users to quickly find health disparities within specific cities or legislative districts. Using the system’s pooling feature, hospitals can build health profiles of their service areas, combining ZIP codes or cities. Community groups can decide which programs to offer at parks based on a neighborhood’s specific health needs. Journalists can compare obesity rates in neighborhoods they cover.

The interactive map allows users to see health disparities across the landscape. Data for one ZIP code can be loaded and displayed, but the user also can zoom out to view adjacent ZIP codes or the entire state for comparison. “AskCHIS NE truly moves forward the center’s mission of democratizing data,” Bogdan Rau, the project manager for AskCHIS NE, said in a statement. “It’s provided as a public service so that everyone who needs access to quality, authoritative health information can benefit.”

Ninez Ponce, the California Health Interview Survey’s principal investigator, added, “This is the first time that Californians will be able to access neighborhood health information in just a few, simple steps. This information will help Californians make health decisions that are specifically targeted to the unique needs of their communities.”

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