Assessing and Improving Community Health in Wisconsin

About This Project

Where should we focus our attention in order to make the fastest improvements in health for all people in Wisconsin? With support from the Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin (UW) School of Medicine and Public Health, the UW Population Health Institute tracks a variety of health indicators through its work on the Health of Wisconsin Report Card, and the Wisconsin Health Trends: Progress Report. Wisconsin’s State Health Plan, Healthiest Wisconsin 2020, sets a goal of “everyone living better longer,” and features 23 focus areas. Realizing significant progress across all 23 focus areas, including closing gaps in health outcomes among different subgroups in the state’s population, is required to realize the goal of “everyone living better longer.” We also know that understanding priorities at a local, as well as statewide, level can lead to more focused efforts and faster progress.

Across our state, local health departments and non-profit hospitals are working with each other, and with other community organizations and community members, to assess local health needs and pick priorities for action. By gathering these local priorities, we have a picture of what’s most important to communities across our state. In our first round of coding we identified key health improvement priorities (listed below) that were featured in about half of all implementation plans. In our second round of coding, we have revised and expanded our coding to include additional priorities.

This website is organized to allow people interested in a particular health priority area to identify other communities across the state that are also working on that priority.

  1. To learn more about the health priorities for individual counties that have been identified through the hospital and local health department needs assessment process, click on a county in the map.
  2. To see the communities working in each of the top priority areas, select a priority area from the list on the right.
  3. To find out the specific strategies that hospitals and local health departments are pursuing, click on the name of the organization and select the tab corresponding to the priority of interest.

Please note that we copied the implementation strategies “as is” from each organization’s plan. These snapshots represent the first round of hospital implementation plans and local health department (LHD) plans as of September 2014. Work is underway to add second round hospital plans and LHD plans as they become available.


While these priorities rose to the top in our scan, each community has put a great deal of effort into identifying the full range of its local priorities. Where available, we have provided links to the full health needs assessments for hospitals and local health departments so that users of this site can put the shared priority areas in their wider local context.

Although none of the top priority areas specifically address social and economic factors, we urge communities to be sure to consider that most, if not all, of these priority areas have critical upstream considerations involving education, employment, income, and social and family support.

Being aware of shared priority areas across the state and in local communities along with the strategies and tactics being considered for implementation creates opportunities for shared learning and alignment of efforts. Supporting local efforts to improve health is essential to making Wisconsin the healthiest state.