Wisconsin Researchers Provide Health Decision Makers with Information to Plan for Severe Complications from COVID-19 by Zip Code, Health Conditions

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UW Health Innovation Program
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Areas with the highest percentages of adults with two or more risk factors for severe COVID-19 complications are shown in the darkest blue. Image courtesy of the Health Innovation Program

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (UW ICTR) recently launched a Neighborhood Health Partnerships (NHP) website (https://nhp.wisc.edu/) that provides ZIP code level data for Wisconsin counties to estimate number and prevalence of individuals who may be at risk of developing severe complications from COVID-19.

This information can be used by public health officials and health systems prepare for hospitalizations, distribute protective equipment, or target communications to at-risk populations. The NHP had a planned launch of extensive reporting capability in Fall 2021, but mapping capability was rapidly accelerated in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NHP is a joint initiative of ICTR and the UW Health Innovation Program (HIP), a health systems research program within the UW School of Medicine and Public Health. Using electronic health data provided by the Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality, investigators prepared susceptibility reports and created maps to help visualize this data for counties with sufficient data. The WCHQ network represents 65 percent of Wisconsin’s primary care physicians.

Maps displayed on the new website show the prevalence of individuals who have two or more risk factors for severe complications from COVID-19. Additionally, reports are being shared with more than 270 members from state, local and tribal health departments, academic institutions, and professional organizations across Wisconsin.

Maureen Smith, MD, PhD, MPH, HIP Director and UW ICTR Director for Community Engagement, comments, “We had been working for several years to provide aggregated electronic health record data to communities to support evidence-based decision making. I am extraordinarily proud of our team who worked at breakneck speed over a two week period to advance the launch date of our mapping capability in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.”

More information is available on the HIP website (https://hip.wisc.edu/blog/uw-researchers-provide-health-decision-makers…) and a story on the maps was featured in SMPH News Today (https://www.med.wisc.edu/news-and-events/2020/april/researchers-map-cov…)

In addition to support from NIH through the CTSA award to UW ICTR, this project is also supported by the Wisconsin Partnership Program.

CTSA Program In Action Goals
Goal 5: Advance the Use of Cutting-Edge Informatics