Online Program

Improving the utilization of health information to increase policy and planning efforts in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 1:30 p.m. - 1:50 p.m.

Andrae Ivy, MPH, Grand Rapids African American Health Institute, Grand Rapids, MI
Shannon Wilson, MPH, Grand Rapids African American Health Institute, Grand Rapids, MI

The Grand Rapids African American Health Institute (GRAAHI) conducts projects to improve health equity for groups who experience health disparities in West Michigan.  These same groups lack sufficient access to tailored health information.  To combat this problem, GRAAHI developed a user-friendly, resource tool to increase community involvement and health efforts.


To increase health policy and planning efforts in West Michigan by empowering community members and policy makers with GRAAHI’s Health Equity Index (GRAAHI’s Index or Index).


First, GRAAHI conducted literature reviews for existing health equity indexes.  Second, GRAAHI collected data and recommendations from reliable sources.  Third, GRAAHI used existing and innovative concepts to develop its Index.  Fourth, GRAAHI facilitated webinars with public health experts.  Fifth, GRAAHI hosted two focus groups to gather community feedback.  Sixth, GRAAHI presented its Index to grantees and partners.  Seventh, GRAAHI hired an evaluator to assess the Index’s usability.  Lastly, GRAAHI will conduct community and policy assessments of its Index with West Michigan residents.


GRAAHI successfully developed and disseminated its Index.  GRAAHI’s Index contains many features including—county, state and national data of 40 indicators, data by race of 21 indicators, user toolkits, talking avatars, an artificially intelligent assistant, a discussion forum, nearly 300 health recommendations, and over 300 online resources.  The community and policy assessments of GRAAHI’s Indexare still being performed.


GRAAHI successfully created its Index to improve the utilization of health information.  Potential policies and efforts to reduce health disparities will be shared from ongoing community assessments in West Michigan.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Identify a new web site in West Michigan that improves the utilization of health information. Explain how GRAAHI’s Health Equity Index was developed to maximize usage. Discuss non-traditional features of GRAAHI’s Index that generate community involvement. Describe community feedback and planning efforts from using GRAAHI’s Index. Formulate the usefulness of GRAAHI’s Index for creating policies to address health disparities in West Michigan and the United States.

Keyword(s): Information Technology, Health Disparities/Inequities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I successfully led the development and completion of this project. As an Epidemiologist, I performed many research efforts to capture local, state and national data to develop this resource tool. I created the content, framework and design of the resource tool/web site. As project lead, I partnered with other health professionals in our state and around the country to assist this process. I've also completed projects at the CDC in health equity.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.