Shelby County is Tennessee’s largest county in both geographic area and population. The U.S. Census Bureau (July 2021) estimates a population of 924,454 living in Shelby County’s 763 square miles with a population density of 1,223 persons per square mile. Memphis, the second largest city in TN, is the county seat. Approximately 70% of Shelby County residents live within the Memphis city limits. The community served by the Shelby County Health Department (SCHD) is majority low-income and racial and ethnic minority. Both Shelby County and Memphis are comprised of a relatively high Black population (55% and 63%, respectively) compared to both the state of TN (17%) and the nation (13.6%). Nineteen percent of the County’s population and 24.6% of Memphis’ population live in poverty. Shelby County endures higher poverty among minorities, including Blacks and Latinos, than non-Hispanic Whites. According to a 2022 rankings report by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, of the 95 counties in the state of TN, Shelby County falls in the bottom third for health outcomes. Some of the health outcomes in which Shelby County fares poorly include infant mortality, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer mortality.
SCHD in collaboration with the University of Memphis School of Public Health, proposes an innovative “Public Health Informatics, Data, Equity, Analytics, and Systems (PH-IDEAS) approach to strengthen Shelby County Health Department Infrastructure, Workforce, and Data Systems”. The proposed approach combines the principles of Human Centered Design by engaging diverse stakeholders, making data available, accessible, and meaningful using the Data Information and Knowledge framework, and presenting the relevant evidence-based information in a format that is useable and easy to understand in a culturally and contextually relevant manner in an effort to promote health equity.
We propose to equip the SCHD workforce with all the essential skills that can help them plan, prepare and respond to any public health emergencies including future pandemics and address health inequities by improving its organizational systems and processes, strengthening its workforce and public health foundational capabilities along with creating a robust data modernization infrastructure that will facilitate data generation, analysis, prediction and visualization to maximize the capacity of informed decision-making. To achieve these goals, SCHD has convened a multidisciplinary team with a wide range of expertise in public health, community nursing, informatics and data analytics, system science, community engagement, policy, and evaluation along with co-participation and in partnership with the community-based organizations who will help address and reduce health inequities.