Mapping the Health of Kids in Durham County
Using 2014-2017 Electronic Health Record (EHR) data from the Duke University Health System (DUHS), the primary health service provider for approximately 80% of residents in Durham County—a county characterized by urban and rural neighborhoods and a diverse ethnic and socioeconomic gradient—this pilot assesses the feasibility of using EHR to estimate the prevalence of important health conditions among children associated with neighborhood factors. EHR data is linked to the American Community Survey (ACS) to evaluate population coverage and to build environment indicators, creating an unique and valuable data source for studying child health disparities.
The pilot provides important information regarding gaps in care and services directed towards children that is useful to not just researchers, but also to clinical providers. In addition to developing a geographic understanding of healthcare service utilization and access, investigators estimate the prevalence of various medical conditions in Durham County, including common conditions, such as asthma and obesity, and rarer conditions, such as autism and child abuse. This work facilitates the generation of disease maps across Durham County, providing valuable insights for disease surveillance and targeted community interventions. Because of the parallels that can be drawn between the Durham County population profile and the U.S. population at large, and the meaningful cross-group comparisons allowed by the size of race, ethnic and socioeconomic groups in Durham County, what is learned from the study about the health of Durham children may be cautiously generalized to the U.S.