As a healthcare professional, you frequently encounter the impact of socioeconomic disparity in the lives of your patients. Many of them come from the run-down neighborhoods you pass on your way to work. These low-resource areas have long been the target of public health researchers and practitioners alike to improve patient outcomes. Knowing objectively which neighborhoods might be facing disproportionate hardship is key to designing public health interventions aimed at reducing disparity.
A new tool developed by the Department of Medicine at UW Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health uses the Area Deprivation Index identify disparity down to the city block.
What is the Area Deprivation Index (ADI)?
The ADI is based on a measure created by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). It characterizes how deprived an area is, with higher numbers indicating more deprived areas. The rating is based on factors including income, education, employment, and housing quality. The ADI has been closely linked to public health outcomes, with an Annals of Internal Medicine article finding that patients living in neighborhoods with ADI ratings in the top 15% were more likely to be re-hospitalized. 
How can this tool be used?
Several publications have used the indexes’ mapping function to target interventions to high need communities. For example, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) used ADI to target previously unidentified disadvantaged neighborhoods for their educational program Everyone with Diabetes Counts.
You can find the tool at the address below:
I encourage you to use the address search function to look around areas where you live and work and consider the disparities that you find. Contemplate how a greater understanding of your patient’s socioeconomic situation can improve the way you practice and stay more connected to your community.
- University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. Area Deprivation Index. 2017. Available at: https://www.neighborhoodatlas.medicine.wisc.edu/