RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A massive new collection of statewide health data has made a significant impact in just two months after it was launched.

The Healthy Communities dashboard breaks down dozens of social determinants of health — those factors unrelated to medical care that affect health — into more than 100 charts and easy-to-use data sets that cover each of North Carolina’s 100 counties and its nearly 2,200 census tracts.

“One of our goals is to make this data truly accessible and actionable,” said Nick Pylypiw, the director of data science at Cape Fear Collective, the nonprofit behind the project.


The collection of numbers is staggering. It ranges from median household incomes and the number of doctors in each county to unemployment rates and average temperature readings.

But it’s not just a case of researchers flexing their muscles and posting numbers simply because they can.

The people behind the project say it’s already producing real-world results.

“It’s really just raised some really important questions around, in certain communities,” said Dr. Tom Wroth, the president and CEO of Community Care of North Carolina.

His group played a part in helping the collective expand the scope of dashboard to a statewide level earlier this year after it was focused solely on the Cape Fear region to start.

“Why are we struggling with, let’s say, diabetes outcomes, or people going to the emergency room instead of primary care?” Wroth added.

Wroth says paying attention to measures of housing, transportation and food access is critical.

“So when we’re helping people that struggle with chronic illness — let’s say, diabetes — just not having access to healthy food is such a key issue,” Wroth said. 

“And so we can see at the neighborhood level where those communities are struggling,” he added. “And the idea is we go out into the community and collaborate with other groups to bring those resources to our patients.”

Most of the numbers are already available to the public, but Pylypiw says the value lies in having them all in one easy-to-access place and in the same format.

“And now I can … have some holistic, 360-degree view of what’s going on in the community instead of these bits and pieces from all over the place,” he said.

These numbers have even more value at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers say.

“The pandemic really taught us that it really is these neighborhood-level, community-level issues and different groups in our communities … that are struggling in different ways with COVID,” Wroth said. “And so as we went through that experience, we really saw that different communities needed different resources. So the idea with this dashboard is to be able to look at the same cuts of data and use the COVID experience to apply this to other healthcare issues.”

It’s easy to see how a medical professional can use the data.

But so can you.

“It’s really user-friendly,” Wroth said.

Pylypiw says the dashboard was designed with the average user in mind.

“What we’ve tried to do is create some sort of tool that meets people at various different levels,” he said.

Pylypiw pointed out that before a school board meeting in New Hanover County to discuss early childhood suspensions, the numbers from the dashboard came in handy.

“At the neighborhood level, I can really look at what’s happening,” Wroth said. “And then maybe I’m going to partner with my faith organization or with another community-based organization to help improve some of these health indicators.”