City unveils online tool to track social determinants of health

Lots of different things can determine just how healthy we are. For instance, where we were born or where we live now can impact our overall health. Where we work during the week, what we do with our nights and weekends, or even where we go to worship can all play a role.

A new online tool called PhilaStats is ready to help users compare these various factors – sometimes referred to as social determinants of health – across different areas of Philadelphia. The interactive dashboard highlights trends in population, along with information about births and deaths in the city between 2011 and 2019. It will be updated as additional years of data become available.

According to Dr. Megan Todd, Director of the Data Lab in the Division of Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, “PhilaStats revolutionizes the way the health department displays and shares our city’s vital statistics data, making it more accessible to the general public, community groups, journalists, and researchers. This tool empowers Philadelphians to learn about key trends in health within the social and demographic context of the city.”

With PhilaStats, health outcomes can be compared by sex, age, and race/ethnicity. In addition to citywide data, PhilaStats shows data by smaller geographic areas alongside date on structural and social factors, allowing users to visualize patterns of disadvantage across the city.

PhilaStats provides easy-to-read maps and charts that display data on topics relevant to many Philadelphians’ lives. Some of the findings shown on the dashboard include the following:

  • Areas of the city where mortality rates are highest align closely with areas of the city where the poverty rates are highest.
  • Drug overdoses has become the leading cause of early death in Philadelphia.
  • Homicide has been the leading killer of young Black men since 2012.
  • While teen birth rates have declined in the last decade, disparities by race/ethnicity persist.
  • Mortality rates from lung cancer have declined over the last decade for both men and, to a lesser extent, women.

And for folks that like to dig into the data a bit more, all of data that are used to feed the PhilaStats dashboard are available for download from OpenDataPhilly.