Researchers, policymakers, sociologists and doctors have long asked how to best measure the health of a nation, yet the challenge persists. The nonprofit State of the USA, Inc. (SUSA) is taking on this challenge, demonstrating how to measure the health of the United States. The organization is developing a new website intended to provide reliable and objective facts about the U.S. in a number of key areas, including health, and to provide an interactive tool with which individuals can track the progress made in each of these areas.
In 2008, SUSA asked the Institute of Medicine's Committee on the State of the USA Health Indicators to provide guidance on 20 key indicators to be used on the organization's website that would be valuable in assessing health. Each indicator was required to demonstrate:
- a clear importance to health or health care,
- the availability of reliable, high quality data to measure change in the indicators over time,
- the potential to be measured with federally collected data, and
- the capability to be broken down by geography, populations subgroups including race and ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.
Taken together, the selected indicators reflect the overall health of the nation and the efficiency and efficacy of U.S. health systems. The complete list of 20 can be found in the report brief and report.