“PolicyMap is a great tool for us because it is so easy to use. It’s very self intuitive. And there’s just so many data points. It would take us forever to try to map it or analyze it on our own.” —Jackie Ward, Epidemiology Supervisor
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Maricopa County, located in south-central Arizona, is the fourth-most populous county in the United States–home to nearly four and a half million people. Maricopa County Department of Public Health Epidemiology Supervisor, Jackie Ward, is tasked with leading the county’s Community Health Assessments (CHA). The assessments, completed in partnership with local nonprofit hospitals and several Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC), report on the current health status of county residents and identify service gaps–a major undertaking for limited staff. The Department of Public Health needed a better way to transform raw data into an organized and actionable plan.


When conducting CHAs, Ward’s team at the Maricopa County Department of Public Health utilizes PolicyMap’s data and mapping platform to develop action plans, supplement patient-level data, create community profiles, and communicate results.

Develop Action Plans
To gather the information needed to perform a CHA, the Department of Public Health conducts focus groups and surveys key informants. Ward’s team works with PolicyMap’s Analysis and Insights Services team to upload participating hospitals and FQHCs locations. Mapping these sites helps the department plan where to host focus groups.

Supplement Patient-Level Data
CHAs, part of an ongoing and broader community health improvement process, require systematic, comprehensive data collection and analysis to identify key health needs. In addition to service data from hospitals and other community care centers, Ward’s team uses PolicyMap’s Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) data. The geographic data related to demographics, housing, healthy food access, health conditions, health facilities, environmental health, access to care, and community assets is seamlessly layered with other aggregated data such as hospital discharge rates and medical claims data. PolicyMap adheres to federally-mandated HIPAA standards regulated by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and has been awarded the HIPAA Seal of Compliance, the healthcare industry standard for verification.

Create Community Profiles
PolicyMap’s custom regions feature gives users the ability to create unique boundaries on the map, and then build reports or download data for those areas. Maricopa County comprises five county-created regions. PolicyMap allows Ward’s team to analyze and visualize data within each custom region, not just at the county level.

Communicate Assessment Results
PolicyMap’s easy-to-understand visualizations are critical for justifying how and where resources should be allocated to best meet community needs. Maps highlight areas where economic and social conditions negatively impact health status, from cost-burdened housing and inadequate nutrition to unemployment and poverty. Insights from PolicyMap inform Maricopa County’s public health department priorities and strategic planning.