Turning great ideas into healthier communities


Core Metrics Pilot Project Final Report

2017 | Download

The Blue Shield of California Foundation sponsored an Institute of Medicine (IOM) workshop on core metrics which led to the formation of an IOM Committee to develop a set of Core Metrics. The Committee's report, Vital Signs: Core Metrics for Health and Health Care Progress, was released in April, 2015. The report identifies national metrics in four domains: healthy people (also referred to as population health), quality of healthcare, cost of healthcare, and engagement.

The Vital Signs report provides national estimates for each domain’s indicators. However, these metrics were not estimated at the local level. Furthermore, it was unknown if they could be implemented and used at the local level by government agencies; in Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNAs); by healthcare providers, such as federally qualified health clinics (FQHC's); and many other stakeholders.

How can local communities across the country use the Vital Signs to assess their health indicators? What are key drivers of feasibility and value of using Vital Signs at a community level? What are potential challenges of implementing Vital Signs? And how can the Vital Signs framework support local and state-level population health goals? To answer these questions, this project studied the feasibility of implementing the Core Metrics and report recommendations in Monterey County and Fresno County, California. The findings demonstrate that health information can be developed at a local level, the Core Metrics concretely specified, and that the measures are practical, understandable, and usable.

Read the report and explore the data sets using the interactive LiveStories platform: Monterey and Fresno

Learn more about the project in this webinar recording, Vital Signs Core Metrics: Learning from the California Demonstration Project, featuring PHI's Sue Grinnell, Steven Teutsch and Genoveva Islas. 

Read Core Metrics Pilot Project: A Case Study, published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice (authors: Ryan-Ibarra, Suzanne PhD, MPH; Pearlman, Dana MSc; Grinnell, Sue MPH; Hanni, Krista PhD; Islas, Genoveva MPH; Teutsch, Steven MD, MPH).

Overall, the project showed that applying the Core Metrics framework at community levels is feasible and of value. Fourteen out of the 15 Core Metrics Best Current Measures or a comparable proxy were available at the county level, and 5 of the 15 were available at the sub-county level. The Core Metrics domains also well aligned with other ongoing measurement initiatives in California, such as Impact Monterey; Let’s Get Healthy, California; and California’s County Health profiles.

The framework, coupled with a community engagement process, allows communities to customize their dashboards according to needs and available assets. For instance, Fresno added a metric on active transportation, while Monterey chose safety and violence prevention as their 16th core metric. Community buy-in and active participa­tion was crucial. Allowing community members to frame the data in ways most relevant to them ensures ownership in the project. Participants expressed the interest in using the LiveStories websites for future policy advocacy, tracking indicators over time, sharing the data with community groups for advocacy and fundraising.