NACo > County Solutions > County Solutions Blog > Posts > County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Provide Tools for Counties to Improve Community Health
County Solutions and Innovation Blog​​
May 07
County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Provide Tools for Counties to Improve Community Health
Written by Andrew Whitacre, NACo Health Associate.
This past week, NACo released a podcast as part of its Elected County Officials’ Guide to the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps project. The podcast features conversations with the Director and Deputy Director of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program at the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI), Bridget Catlin and Julie Willems Van Dijk. The podcast also features leaders from two counties that are utilizing the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps to undertake innovative strategies and build partnerships across sectors in their communities to improve health. Mayor Ben McAdams and Human Services Director Lori Bays from Salt Lake County, Utah and Health Department Director Allison Alejos from Shawnee County, Kansas discussed how they utilize the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps in their efforts to improve community health.

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Bridget and Julie discussed what the County Health Rankings measure and why those measures provide a helpful snapshot of health in counties across the country. During the conversation Bridget and Julie also provided a number of important tools and resources that are available for counties through the Roadmaps section of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps website, including:

  • Action Cycle- provides counties with an interactive step-by-step guide of Action Steps that describe the key activities for each step with suggested tools, resources, and additional reading to improve community health.
    CHRR Action Center.png

  • What Works for Health- a tool that makes available to counties a database of evidence-informed policies, programs, and system changes to improve health in each of the measures indicated in the County Health Rankings. Each program or policy features a description of the expected beneficial outcomes, evidence of effectiveness, the impact on disparities, and implementation examples to help counties fit programs and policies to their needs.

  • Measuring Progress- guidance to assist counties in understanding how the County Health Rankings are a way to inform progress measurement and to utilize the Rankings as a starting point to collect additional local data to improve community health.

  • Community Coaches- offer personalized assistance to counties by providing information about the tools available through the Roadmaps Action Center and/or engaging in a telephone consultation. To contact a Community Coach, go to the bottom of any page at and click the ‘Contact the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Team’ icon or visit

On May 29th, Salt Lake County, Utah will hold one of the six NACo Community Dialogues to Improve County Health. They are calling their Community Dialogue “Building Healthy Communities” and are using the day to lay the ground work on how the county is going to approach improving health outcomes by involving a variety of different sectors of the community, including schools, law enforcement, faith-based organizations, government organizations, the business community, and other community groups. Participants will share data, prioritize areas of focus, and develop a plan on how to work collectively after the Community Dialogue with a common agenda and a role for each of the sectors of the community represented.

Shawnee County, Kansas is one of five large urban counties in Kansas. The county ranks 5th out 96 counties in the state for clinical care in the County Health Rankings, but ranks 86th in social and economic factors due to issues with low high school graduation rates, poverty, and children in single parent households impacting the community. In order to address these issues and others, Shawnee County is engaged in a cross-sector collaborative initiative called Heartland Healthy Neighborhoods. This initiative includes partners from dozens of community organizations, including schools, hospitals, urban planners, city and county government, the United Way, and others. For more information on this initiative, visit Heartland Healthy Neighborhood.

To explore your county’s health ranking, visit the 2014 County Health Rankings.

NACoAnnual_New_Orleans_2014.jpgAt NACo’s 79th Annual Conference and Exposition in New Orleans Parish, Louisiana, County Solutions and Innovation (CSI) will hold an interactive workshop Sunday, July 13th from 2:30-4pm that explores what counties can and are doing to look beyond clinical services and access to care to improve the health of their communities. The workshop will provide participants with an opportunity to share best practices and network with other counties on this important topic. Click here to register.

To learn more about the Community Dialogues to Improve County Health, NACo’s Elected County Officials’ Guide to County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, or the Annual Conference workshop, please contact Andrew Whitacre, Health Associate, or 202.942.4215.​​​


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