A NEW TOOL FOR DALLAS-FORT WORTH HEALTHCARE
By Nancy Williams, President, The Health Industry Council of
the Dallas/Fort Worth Region, and Sue Pickens, Director Strategic
Planning, Parkland Health and Hospital System, Dallas
The Dallas-Fort Worth area is not unlike other parts of Texas and
the U.S. when it comes to experiencing a growing interest in improving
personal and community health that spans all sectors and populations.
And, like most communities with large populations and diverse arrays
of economic, social, educational and healthcare needs, the effort
to harness this interest began with a comprehensive assessment of
the region and its people.
In 2001, the Health Industry Council of the Dallas/Fort Worth Region
took the lead by launching an initiative to determine just how healthy
local residents are in the 16-county area. The Council-led initiative
soon expanded into a broad-based effort that includes local health
departments, public hospital systems, nonprofit and for-profit hospital
systems, major healthcare funders and payors, and other interested
members of the healthcare community.
Early on, members of this collaborative group turned to the Landscape
Project as a valuable source of data and information about aspects
of health status that ranged from each countys current population
density to how many cases of viral hepatitis they experienced in
a recent year. With its more than 250 indicators, the Landscape
Project quickly became an important tool for understanding the multidimensional
aspects of health status and healthcare provision in the metroplex.
Almost everything planners and the public need to know to determine
the regions current state of health is available from the
Landscape Project information is enabling the Council to frame
and answer increasingly complex questions about local health assets
and needs. For example, Project data has been used to explore issues
- What are the strengths of the north Texas region in terms of
health status and health care systems?
- What risk factors are the most prevalent and in which populations
are these risks most prominent?
- What have the trends been in these factors over the past decade?
- How does the regions health status and healthcare assets
compare to those of other regions with similar economic and social
Because the Landscape Project is an ongoing, continuing effort
of the Texas Health Institute, the Council knows
it can depend on having the same high-quality, comprehensive data
available as a yardstick to gauge changes in the future. This makes
Landscape information far superior to static data sets that provide
"snap shots" of a regions health at single points
Because health status, healthcare status and the factors that impact
them are dynamic, always moving forces, the Landscape Projects
emphasis on providing not only historical data, but also frequent
updates really gives its data an advantage particularly in
a region thats changing as rapidly as Dallas-Fort Worth.
For example, at Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas,
strategic health planners are using Landscape data to further enhance
Parklands leadership role in efforts to improve community
health status, ensure appropriate resource allocation, prevent duplication
of services, and justify its tax-exempt status and disproportionate
In 2001, Parkland presented a report generated by the Landscape
Project to local community leaders as the finale for a series of
discussions addressing health care issues in Dallas. Landscape Project
data provided an important framework that is helping community leaders
understand how demographic, social and economic changes have impacted
the community. The information Parkland strategic planners derived
from the Landscape Project data laid the groundwork for much of
the health policy development that is now occurring at the local
Parkland has made Landscape Project data an integral part of The
Dallas County Community Health Checkup. This information has provided
the hospital and system with the ability to: a) understand the demographic
shifts that are occurring in Dallas County; b) determine gaps in
service and community need; c) identify epidemiological changes
in Dallas County compared to surrounding counties; and, d) measure
health system change in Dallas and the region as a whole.
Overall, the Landscape Project is providing the Dallas-Fort Worth
region with an external source that informs and validates all of
the extensive local research and analysis on health status and healthcare
thats presently underway. Its an exciting new tool to
help the region accomplish the big job of improving its health and
health care systems.