San Diego County Receives State and Local Innovation Prize

Leveraging shared data to address the opioid crisis in nine states. Addressing chronic disease management in a large safety net system in New York City. Coordinating public and private resources to manage community health improvement goals in San Diego.

What do these three population health challenges have in common? Each one is using a data analytics roadmap (DAR) to turn analysis into information that decisions makers can use to improve health and health care.

And … all three projects were recently named finalists in the Milbank Memorial Fund and AcademyHealth State and Local Innovation Prize, which recognizes state and local efforts to improve the health of populations and the performance of health systems.

The annual prize, the second to be conferred, was announced on the main stage of AcademyHealth’s Health Datapalooza on March 28. This year’s competition focused on the use of DARs to address population health challenges. An expert panel selected San Diego County’s Live Well San Diego Community Health and Well-Being Data System as the first-prize winner.

Here’s a quick look at the finalists:

Medicaid Outcomes Distributed Research Network (MODRN): Evaluating Medicaid Policies to Address the Opioid Crisis

MODRN is a partnership between academic institutions and Medicaid agencies in nine states. Each state provides Medicaid claims and encounter and eligibility data to its university partners based on a structured format that helps to standardize the data across the states.  For this project, MODRN is using the standardized Medicaid data set to study opioid use and treatment patterns. Through MODRN, Medicaid agencies can now compare their results on these measures and work with their peers and university partners to develop ideas on how they can reduce opioid use and improve treatment. MODRN addresses data governance and interoperability for Medicaid data; other states can participate in this model and/or replicate the data standards and measures developed by the group. For more information about this project, contact Julie Donohue at

NYC Health + Hospitals (NYC H+H): Population Health Analytics at Scale in the Largest Safety Net System

NYC H+H has established ambitious goals for population health improvement—and this project demonstrates how they are using data analytics to meet those goals.  With a well-developed structure and processes to address data governance and uses across a very large, disparate health system, NYC H+H developed priorities for population health measures and created a dashboard to make information on those measures readily accessible across the system. Overall, the system has achieved improvements in chronic disease management by using the population health priority measures and deeply focusing on making sure the dashboard is used.  The data strategies, tools, and results have been published in open access publications and shared with peers in other large safety net systems. For more information about this project, contact

San Diego County (CA): Live Well San Diego Community Health and Well-Being Data System

Live Well San Diego is a comprehensive strategy developed by the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency to improve community health by leveraging data and engaging stakeholders. Through this initiative, the county is coordinating public and private resources and using integrated data from a variety of sources to target specific improvement goals. The Public Health Services Community Health Data Unit gathers, aggregates, and analyzes data on key population health characteristics. These data are then assembled to track progress on population health goals identified in the community health improvement plans. By standardizing the measures derived from these various data sources, and making this code publicly available, anyone who has access to comparable data sets could develop similar reports on community health measures. For more information about this project, contact Leslie Ray at

For the award, a panel of experts reviewed more than 40 applications, looking for projects that demonstrated innovation in overcoming traditional public sector barriers and challenges to leveraging data for policy and programs, measurable impact on specific metrics of population health, sustainability of effort and likely future impact on policy and programs, and potential to scale and/or replicate. “We were pleased with the breadth and creativity shown among the applications,” said Milbank Memorial Fund Program Officer Rachel Block. “It is obvious there is a lot of important work being done to use public sector data for insights to improve population health.”

A fundamental component of the DAR is reproducibility. The Fund encourages you to contact the project sponsors to find out more about how you can use their models.

“State and local health agencies require robust data and analytics for program design, operations, and evaluation,” said Christopher Koller, president of the Milbank Memorial Fund. “However, these agencies often struggle to translate that data into useful information. By recognizing the work of these finalists, we hope to offer examples of successful roadmaps from which other communities can learn.”