Aetna Foundation execs: Data can help tackle healthcare disparities

Geography is a clear determinant of health disparities for patients, as chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes hit underserved communities especially hard, Aetna Foundation leaders Garth Graham, MaryLynn Ostrowski and Alyse Sabina write in a Health Affairs blog post. "A person's ZIP code is a stronger predictor of his or her overall health than other factors, including race and genetics," the authors argue. If population-level healthcare disparities were eliminated, up to 80,000 early deaths in the United States would be prevented each year. Considering that there are many public health, policy, social and economic factors involved in health outcomes, it's imperative to study these factors at the community level. By gathering enough behavioral and social data, not only could healthcare leaders help make the necessary policy changes, but they can also adequately inform the communities disproportionately affected by chronic diseases through databases and mobile technology. Blog post