The information that one innovator believes will transform the health of communities is being collected now.
The Way to Wellville project aims to bring better food, quality early childhood education and a host of other positive health indicators into five American communities.
The program's tagline is simple: five places, five metrics, five years.
The “open-source, evidence generating project” was developed by Esther Dyson, founder of HICCup, the not-for-profit Health Initiative Coordinating Council.
Dyson, a keynote speaker at the 2015 Health Datapalooza conference held this week in Washington, is also an investor in health data start-ups 23andMe, HealthTap, PatientsLikeMe and several others.
The Wellville communities are Clasp County, Oregon; Greater Muskegon, Michigan; Lake County, California; Niagara Falls, New York and Spartanburg, South Carolina.
The Wellville communities select their metrics, but the measures are chosen from those recommended by the independent Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
In Spartansburg, South Carolina, for example, “I learned about the jails,” Dyson said.
A deputy told Dyson that he and mental health workers in town have the same “customers.” That's led law enforcement and mental health specialists to collaborate.
In Niagara Falls, New York, tracking smoking habits will be a priority, as 37 percent of residents smoke.
Dyson has seen successful diabetes-management projects in one community and strong early childhood education in another.
She wants to know what the projects look like “when you do them all in one place -- to scale over five years. Everybody kind of believes it ought to work, but they've never seen it work."