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New dashboard examines social health factors for the Cape Fear region

The goal is to measure the health of the Cape Fear region and help to guide public health initiatives.
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 9:40 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A new dashboard tool aims to provide a central location for socioeconomic health data for the Cape Fear region.

The Cape Fear Collective launched the Healthy Communities NC dashboard this week. The site provides a breakdown of 21 social health factors, broken down by region and county. These factors include third grade reading levels and life expectancy.

“This data is all publicly available, but it’s not all accessible, so that’s part of what we wanted to do is just bring it all together in this one spot and make it so the insights were clear for everybody,” said Anna Casey, a data scientist with the Cape Fear Collective who helped to bring the dashboard to life.

Novant Health sponsored the creation of the website. Leaders say the goal is to measure the health of the Cape Fear region and help to guide public health initiatives.

“[The data tool] tells us about mostly the 80 percent of health factors that are not medical care and it gives us the ability to look down community by community at who is being left behind and in what areas,” said Dr. Philip Brown, Chief Community Impact Officer for Novant Health.

Leaders who helped create Healthy Communities want to help North Carolina reach its goal of becoming a symbol for health in the United States through the Healthy NC 2030 initiative. A 2018 report ranked North Carolina as 33rd in the country in overall health.

“If we are able to pursue this, North Carolina can be [among the] top-10 states in the United States in overall health by 2030,” Brown said. “And within a generation, we have a chance to eliminate every health disparity.”

One set of statistics that stands out to data scientists is the rise in suicides and drug overdose deaths in recent years.

“Across the entire state, for example, drug overdose deaths, suicide deaths, deaths of despair, [are] definitely increasing across all of North Carolina but also within our region,” Casey said.

Cape Fear Collective plans to expand the dashboard to include a breakdown of data for the entire state by this summer. The dashboard will be updated annually.

To explore the dashboard, visit healthycommunitiesnc.org.

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