May 1999

Grant Results

National Program

Information for State Health Policy


From 1992 to 1997, the New York State (NYS) Department of Health (DOH), the designated lead agency for the InfoSHP project, sought to make permanent improvements to the state's health infrastructure, particularly in access to primary care.

In Phase I, the Department of Health staff created the Health Policy Information Consortium, a group of private and public health agencies that shape New York's health policies. In Phase II, the Department dedicated its work to supporting the consortium and implementing data improvements.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) Information for State Health Policy national program.

Key Results
Staff at the Department of Health accomplished the following:

  • A statewide population health survey.
  • A health accounts system to track expenditures by payer and provider.
  • A geographic information system (GIS) to assess the need for primary and preventive care.
  • A longitudinal multi-agency database linking alcohol and substance abuse treatment files for pregnant women to vital statistics data.

RWJF supported this project through two grant totaling $ 1,148,785.

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New York InfoSHP sought to improve the quality and dissemination of the state's health care data so that policymakers, providers, and the public could more effectively examine health care needs and spending. By providing these groups with access to accurate, timely, and comprehensive data, InfoSHP hoped to facilitate decision-making about the direction health care should take in the state.

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Geographic Information System. Under InfoSHP, a geographic information system (GIS) for community-level health care planning and evaluation was designed and built. The GIS allows data to be analyzed by regions within the state, such as counties, cities, census tracts, or neighborhoods. The GIS is available to state and local health staff from their desktops via a user-friendly Web page on a secure Intranet. The GIS is used primarily for analyses of children's immunizations, maternal and child health planning, and community health assessments. The DOH is providing resources to maintain the system and working to apply GIS capabilities to other public health improvement initiatives.

State Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey. The InfoSHP project purchased and tested New York State data that weighted different factors from the National Health Interview Survey and generated state-level health indicators. The data were used to examine children's immunization rates and use of health care by payer. In later years, InfoSHP was no longer able to obtain state-level estimates from the National Center for Health Statistics and those efforts ceased.

Health Expenditures Reporting System (HERS). HERS is a health-accounts system for health care service use and expenditures by payer and provider type. A report "Health Care Spending in New York State" was produced and disseminated statewide in mid-1995, a time when health policymakers were in the midst of evaluating state and national health care reform proposals. HERS is no longer active.


Further development of the GIS will continue. Other InfoSHP activities ended with the end of the grant.

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InfoSHP helped the state to identify key health policy issues that could benefit from data and information improvements. InfoSHP's main success was the development of a GIS that is used in health care planning.


The HERS report was distributed to legislators, state and federal agencies, health organizations, and health providers. The GIS was made widely available to state and local health department staff. The state level Health Interview Survey data were used by state agencies. Finally, the Internet was used to distribute project materials, A published data report is listed in the Bibliography.

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  1. Long-term programs such as InfoSHP must recognize that their strategies and ability to succeed need to take into account the potential for radical change in leadership and priorities in states over time. NYS experienced a major change in leadership in the governor's office and the cabinet agencies during the term of InfoSHP. In addition, departments were redesigned and reorganized and staff were let go. Initiatives and staff that can flexibly respond to these changing priorities will have more opportunity to succeed over time. But it still may be hard to avoid the risks of being "branded" as a predecessor's program.
  2. Large and complex states face more complex organizational challenges in introducing change. However, states that have a history of demand for data (such as New York) have an advantage over others even in changing political circumstances since the demand for data remains.

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New York Information for State Health Policy Project


State of New York Department of Health - Center for Community Health (Albany,  NY)

  • Amount: $ 149,998
    Dates: March 1992 to September 1993
    ID#:  019745

  • Amount: $ 998,787
    Dates: October 1993 to September 1997
    ID#:  022866


Project Director: Phil Vernon
(518) 473-1495

Web Site

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(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)


"Community HealthView Data Guide," Public Health Information Group, Center for Community Health, Spring 1997.

"Mapping of Local Area Health Data Using the Community HealthView DataQuery Program and Mapinfo Desktop," The Public Health Information Group, April 1997.

World Wide Web Sites

The Web site is at

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Report prepared by: Robert Mahon
Edited by: Karin Gillespie
Edited by: Marian Bass
Reviewed by: Marian Bass
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: James Knickman

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