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Real time regional healthcare data available for the first time locally


A quarter of the people in Monroe County smoke, that’s 11% higher than the national average. It’s also up 2% from 2017. That factoid is from a website called

The site anonymously pools health care data from doctor’s visits to give experts a look at what is ailing people in the area which includes all 13 counties that Rochester RHIO (Regional Health Information Organization) and Common Ground Health serve. 

This is a novel approach as Common Ground Health’s Wade Norwood explains because most health care data comes from insurance claims.

“The challenge of the insurance claim,” said Norwood. “Is that the claim does not exactly mirror what brought me to the doctor.”

Norwood is hopeful that documenting the interactions between doctors and patients instead of doctor’s offices and payment systems will provide more accurate detailed data.

Rochester RHIO’s Jill Eisenstein said it could indicate community health problems faster than insurance claims, which tend to lag behind. 

“When we’re looking at the cost of care,” said Eisenstein. “It makes sense to look at the claims data, but when we’re looking at quality of care, it makes more sense to look at the actual clinical data. Claims data is put in there by people who are looking at the data from the point of view of billing. Health care data is entered with a different purpose, health care.” 

Highlights of the data show that people in the region with high blood pressure are more likely to get that under control than the national average. Residents in the region have also worked hard to get diabetes under control. 

One of the areas where Rochester is lagging behind is obesity. 46% of adults locally are obsese. The national average is 40%. But it's the smoking rates that concern Eisenstein and Norwood.

“Our smoking rates are much higher than the national average,” said Eisenstein. “I was very surprised by that.”

Smoking causes cancer, heart and lung diseases, stroke, and numerous other conditions. Norwood said that local groups were influential in convincing the state legislature to raise the smoking age and will mobilize to continue to curb the habit.

“The more we can say to young people,” said Norwood. that starting to smoke is a very, very risky and poor health decision to make, the better off we are.”

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.