Using Census Data for Healthcare

Census data can be used in various ways by businesses in all industries. When households receive the form in the mail, it seems like another task to add to the to-do list that sits with a low priority. However, the census is instrumental in community planning as the data provided gives significant insight into the demographics of local populations. The needs for essential services like hospitals, schools, and grocery stores are based on data recorded by the census bureau.

For instance, in terms of healthcare- Bed capacity per 1,000 inhabitants is a consideration when planning to build a new facility. Customizing a report showing ethnicity, household income, household size, and education levels would be a great resource at the early planning stages of a project of this sort. A densely populated area like Fort Lauderdale, Fl. with a population of 178,783, would result in need of a larger hospital with the capacity of approximately 700 beds (Broward General Hospital) to serve its community. On the opposite side, a rural city like Tehachapi, California, with its population of 12,753, would need a 24-bed capacity hospital (Adventist Health – Tehachapi Valley) for its inhabitants.  

The census database can also provide information on household income levels. This is important for healthcare admission policies. Referencing the hospitals above, if the majority of the population surrounding these two facilities are in lower-income brackets, it would be wise to accept Medicaid for non-emergency services like primary and preventive care. If the surrounding community were to be in the top 10% income level in the country, the need to accept Medicaid wouldn’t be as critical.

It would also be helpful to research census data to determine the type of services needed in communities. Physicians in certain specialties would be in higher demand based on demographic needs. It would be more fruitful for a plastic surgeon to establish their private practice where the median income is $93,000 like Santa Monica California rather than Bradenton, Florida, where the median income of $44,000 might not allow much room for elective surgeries.

Next Steps

Data can be a powerful tool when accurate and applied effectively. It’s is not sufficient to gather numbers and information. Synthesizing the data available is equally as important to gain insights that could drive your business decisions. The Census database is a great secondary data resource available at no cost. Take a look and see how it can help you determine your local community’s healthcare needs. If you haven’t checked out my last blog on data points and insights, you can here.