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ChallengeThe University of Maryland School of Pharmacy is the nation’s fourth oldest school of pharmacy. Through its education, research, and service programs, The School strives to improve the health and well-being of society. Yet the thriving center for life sciences research lacked access to a comprehensive data warehouse that included community-level demographic and social determinants of health (SDoH) indicators. The time-consuming task of gathering data from disparate sources for studies and projects was frustrating for student and faculty researchers.
SolutionAfter discovering PolicyMap at a public health conference, Dr. Fadia T. Shaya, Professor and Executive Director of the Center on Drugs and Public Policy, and the Behavioral Health Resources and Technical Assistance Program at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy introduced University of Maryland School of Pharmacy faculty and staff to PolicyMap and incorporated PolicyMap’s SDoH indicators into health claims and electronic health records datasets to dig deeper into clinical outcomes.
In a study on the “Association between County-Level Medical Risk Factors and COVID-19 Vaccination Rates,” Dr. Shaya and her team, used county-level data from PolicyMap to create a Risk Health Index (RHI), including five subindices: hypertension, diabetes, obesity, COPD, and heart disease. The RHI was used to evaluate county-level COVID-19 vaccine disparities.
In another study, “Social Determinants of Substance Use and Drug Overdose Prevention,” Dr. Shaya and her team used PolicyMap data to demonstrate factors affecting quality of life, such as violent crime, social vulnerability, and access to the internet, are significantly associated with opioid fatal overdose, possibly more so than opioid prescribing.
These impactful studies inform policymakers and influence the allocation of resources to improve outcomes. Local health departments launching new initiatives, health insurers qualifying outcomes, and cutting-edge health systems connecting medical services with social interventions illustrate how institutions cooperating with the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy benefited from the analyses integrating PolicyMap data.