Three health care systems in the region are joining forces to assess Northwest Indiana's health needs, as required by the Affordable Health Care Act. This is welcome news.
Among the information sought from residents is their height, weight, level of exercise, eating patterns and dental health.
Community Healthcare System, Methodist Hospitals and Franciscan Alliance are sponsoring this comprehensive survey.
"Why duplicate efforts and resources and money to do the same thing?" said Mary Ann Shacklett, Community's chief financial officer.
Once each of the participating hospitals gets its information, they will decide separately how to address perceived needs.
Research on health needs is good, because as One Region's recent Quality of Life Indicators Report said, there's a shortage of data to accurately assess the situation.
"One of the region's most severe gaps, ever since the first Quality of Life Indicators report, has been a lack of good, geographically specific data about health needs and health delivery in the region," the report said. "In order to address the region's disparities and inefficiencies, we need to know more about them."
Data from a similar study in 2005, when the hospitals also collaborated, resulted in changes.
Methodist Hospitals opened a diabetes center and focused more on dialysis services.
Franciscan — then St. Margaret Mercy Hospital — in Hammond began programs aimed at reducing neonatal and infant mortality.
Community's facilities have been active in community outreach, including partnering with churches in East Chicago to educate people about diabetes.
Those actions after the 2005 study drive home the need for periodic, consistent updates to help the region's health care providers continually take the pulse of the region's health care needs.