Tracking Success: Business and Health Dashboards are Powerful Tools in COVID Economic Recovery

The COVID-19 pandemic has crystallized the inextricable link between America’s public health and economic well-being. Without healthy and safe places to live, work and play, there is no pathway to economic or social prosperity. Decades of underinvestment and inadequate support have brought our public health infrastructure to a dangerous tipping point.

As a generator of economic growth, the private sector in particular has a unique opportunity to help the nation recover from the pandemic and prepare for future crises by advancing public health and safety. Yet throughout the pandemic, business owners have struggled to recruit and retain experienced employees as physical, mental and financial stressors have taken their toll on American workers. To document that impact and create cultures based on health equity, businesses need meaningful metrics to document their progress.

With support from the CDC Foundation, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health brought business and public health leaders together and conducted a scan of the business and health dashboard marketplace. The search identified nearly two dozen established business and health dashboard tools and resources containing baseline and comparative data on key metrics businesses can use to create programs or policies and track progress outcomes. These interactive, easy-to-use dashboards allow business and public health executives to conduct benchmarking and comparison studies across county, state and national populations and document progress in achieving business-supported public health goals.

The resulting report, titled Building a Foundation for a Business and Health Accountability Dashboard, offers practical advice to the business community on ways it can support rebuilding a robust U.S. public health infrastructure following the COVID-19 pandemic. The report builds on an earlier report by Johns Hopkins titled Seven Ways Businesses Can Align with Public Health for Bold Action and Innovation. Produced with the support of the de Beaumont Foundation, that report put forth seven recommendations for business owners to help strengthen partnerships and improve health, including developing accountability dashboards that track and monitor progress toward achieving key community economic and public health outcomes.

While dashboards alone won’t improve public health, they can convey the need and opportunity for public health interventions and, once such interventions are in place, drive success. Such investments can provide both long-term economic development and community sustainability where businesses are anchored–benefits that can not only save dollars, but also improve population health, broaden health equity, develop greater preparedness for inevitable health crises and spark economic prosperity for all.

Hailey Bednar is an emergency response specialist with the CDC Foundation.