Driving Equity and Inclusion with Data and Analytics

Driving Equity and Inclusion with Data and Analytics

Earlier this month, the Voyatek team presented at the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) winter conference. Our session focused on how counties can leverage data and analytics to make more informed program and policy decisions, develop collaborative data equity strategies across diverse stakeholders, and reduce inequities.

We discussed how social determinants of health (SDOH), like access to quality education, economic stability, and other aspects of social equity can determine whether you’re more or less likely to suffer from a serious health condition. Understanding the impact of these factors across geographies and subpopulations is crucial to driving better health outcomes in your community.

For example, data can be used to identify potential areas of need or to understand how different groups are affected by a particular policy or program. It can also help inform decision-making on allocation of resources and funding for initiatives that support vulnerable populations. By harnessing the power of data and analytics, government leaders, businesses, nonprofits, and other stakeholders can work together to drive equitable outcomes.

During our conversations after our session, it was clear that many leaders in Maryland have the same question – how we do we get started?

Based on our work with state and local agencies across the country, we recommend:

Begin with a program within health and human services: It’s likely that your county department of health is the most efficient agency to spearhead an initial program. While other agencies — like public safety and corrections — will eventually be a key part of a comprehensive program, the health department’s data is the best starting point because health departments have mandated federal reporting and therefore tend to have infrastructure, policies and processes that make accessing and using the data easier.


Outcomes Delivered

Virginia’s Framework for Addiction Analysis and Community Transformation (FAACT) began as a pilot program in Winchester, Virginia, in the heart of the Northern Shenandoah Valley. Local officials in that area, including the police department, the Northwest Virginia Regional Drug and Gang Task Force from the Virginia State Police, the Winchester Public Defender’s Office and Valley Health, have been using FAACT to share, analyze, correlate and view a wealth of information pertaining to everything from the effects of opioid abuse on an individual to crimes related to drug use.

After a successful launch in Winchester, the program has expanded to other Virginia communities.

Take a pilot-based approach: Pick a single program, policy, or service that you want to improve with analytics. This will allow you to learn and refine your approach before scaling it across the organization.

Develop a data strategy and roadmap: Create a plan that outlines the steps required to achieve your goals, including how you will access, integrate, analyze, act on the information gathered. Establish guidelines for how you will protect data, facilitate sharing and collaboration between stakeholders, and ensure compliance with applicable laws.

Engage community stakeholders: Talk to community members, nonprofits, and local service providers to understand their needs and identify areas where your program could have the biggest impact on outcomes in their communities. Make sure to include onboarding and outreach or educational components teaching community stakeholders how to use the data as part of their daily operational work delivering services to your community.

These steps can help government leaders develop a strong foundation for using analytics and data-driven approaches to drive equity, inclusion, and better community outcomes.