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Putting Diabetes on the Map: What Does Population Health Really Look Like at the Local Level?

Ridgeway, Jennifer L. MPP; Lim, Choon-Chern MSSE; Liesinger, Juliette T. BA; Smith, Steven A. MD; Shah, Nilay D. PhD; Montori, Victor M. MD; Ziegenfuss, Jeanette Y. PhD

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: July/August 2014 - Volume 20 - Issue 4 - p 411–419
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3182a5c2dc
Original Articles

Population health data are used to profile local conditions, call attention to areas of need, and evaluate health-related programs. Demand for data to inform health care decision making has spurred development of data sources and online systems, but these are often poorly integrated or limited in scope. Our objective was to identify existing data about diabetes mellitus–related conditions in Minnesota, build an online data resource, and identify what data are currently missing that, if available, would better inform assessment of health conditions in the state. A Web site was developed and populated with existing data and data not available elsewhere. It features functionality identified as most important by users, such as maps and county profiles. The site could serve as a flexible tool for stakeholder engagement, but issues were identified during development, including concerns about interpreting map data and open questions about sustainability, that need to be addressed.

This article describes a publicly available hub that serves to identify existing data on diabetes mellitus in Minnesota and what data currently missing that, if available, would better inform assessment of health conditions in the state. It also describes the first 12 months of its development to meet these aims and highlights the continued challenges and proposed next steps.

Division of Health Care Policy and Research (Mss Ridgeway and Liesinger and Drs Smith, Shah, Montori, and Ziegenfuss), Department of Information Technology (Mr Lim), and Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, & Nutrition (Drs Smith and Montori), Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. Dr Ziegenfuss is now with Data Collection Center, HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Correspondence: Steven A. Smith, MD, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, & Nutrition, Mayo Clinic, 200 First St SW, Rochester, MN 55905 (

Ms Ridgeway leads data collection for MN Health Atlas, along with Ms Liesinger, and was the primary contributor to the manuscript. Dr Ziegenfuss serves as the lead investigator and methods expert for this project, and she and Dr Smith lead the stakeholder engagement efforts. Mr Lim is responsible for information technology development of the site, including all aspects of design and functionality. Drs Shah and Montori conceptualized this project. All authors made substantial contributions to the writing of the article and approved the final version.

Development of the MN Health Atlas was funded by a grant from the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics’ Decade of Discovery (grant P002029608) and internal research dollars from the Division of Epidemiology at Mayo Clinic.

The authors thank Ryan D. Johnson, from Mayo Clinic, and Jennifer A. Linde, PhD, and Patricia McKee, from the University of Minnesota, for their assistance with development of the MN Health Atlas. Staff at the Minnesota Department of Health, especially Gretchen Taylor and Chuck Stroebel, MPH, and Jay Desai, MPH, at HealthPartners, provided valuable feedback about the MN Health Atlas. Sheila Kiscaden, with the Decade of Discovery, provided invaluable assistance with stakeholder engagement.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare, financial or otherwise.

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.