For Immediate Release:
November 21, 2018
Lauren Adams

We now recognize that where people live, combined with other social factors such as access to healthy food, education, and transportation, has a major impact on their health and well-being. On the community level, understanding how these factors interact within a specific geography allows for better targeting of resources and interventions, with increased chances of improving health outcomes and quality of life.

That is why AcademyHealth and the Aetna Foundation are excited to open the call for submissions for the Healthiest Communities Data Challenge. The primary objective of the Challenge is to accelerate progress towards building healthy communities, by identifying information signals and gaps that can be used to design and implement community level interventions that drive better health outcomes, with additional goals of encouraging innovation and new ideas in the health data community.

Our vision for the challenge is to provide a platform for entrepreneurs and health focused organizations to team up and offer ideas and/or inspiration on how to leverage the available data in the Healthiest Communities rankings, a collaboration between the Aetna Foundation and U.S. News & World Report, and other community level information to build and address health solutions and drive change in local communities. Put simply, the challenge gives you the opportunity to demonstrate how to make data practical and useful so it can inform local health outcomes.

“A person’s ZIP code can be a greater predictor of health and well-being, than even genetics, and residents’ health can vastly differ from one neighborhood to the next. We know that some of the best improvements in community and individual health are from those activated at the local level,” said Dr. Garth Graham, president of the Aetna Foundation and vice president of Community Health for Aetna, Inc. “Through our work with U.S. News & World Report, and now with AcademyHealth on this challenge, our goal is to provide communities with data that can help them better understand opportunities, inspire ideas for change and create sustained improvements in communities across the country.”

The Challenge encourages partnerships among city/county agencies, local foundations/organizations, entrepreneurs, and others to make the available data more actionable. Submissions should also include an overview of the community/communities of interest, including key health, social, and demographic information, as well as a summary of how proposed activities address two or more of the categories from the Healthiest Communities rankings.

In the spirit of data liberation, we have worked with the Aetna Foundation and U.S. News & World Report to provide a public data use file from the rankings of over 3,000 communities, as well as other resources to help teams with data analytics and visualizations. In addition, we will announce three finalists in February and provide support for a team representative to attend and participate in the 2019 Health Datapalooza, where we will announce the final prize winners on stage.

“Beyond simply the opportunity for problem solving the Challenge provides, we are very excited about the connection to the 10th Anniversary of the Health Datapalooza, where we will celebrate the data liberation movement and highlight how groups are using health data to improve outcomes,” noted Raj Sabharwal, Senior Director at AcademyHealth. “Honoring the Challenge prize winners on the mainstage will demonstrate how we can empower citizens and health care leaders to shape interventions that can improve health outcomes directly in their community and beyond.”

More information on the Healthiest Communities Data Challenge, including detailed instructions and rules are available at