Belmont University Data Collaborative Launches First Data Warehouse Project Focused on Prevention, Solutions to Nashville’s Growing Hypertension Challenges

BDC Joins Forces with Community Partners to Create First Tennessee State-Wide Data Warehouse to Address Complex Community Challenges

Flower Bed in front of Belmont Sign

Belmont University’s Data Collaborative (BDC) today announced the launch of its first Data Warehouse project which will focus on gathering and analyzing publically available data to develop creative solutions to Nashville’s hypertension challenges. Working alongside several community partners, the Nashville Health Hypertension (NHH) project will be the first opportunity to leverage data gathered by and housed in the university’s new Data Warehouse, Tennessee’s first hub for a variety of publicly available state-wide data. 

The warehouse will be leveraged for many projects moving forward, all aimed at solving the world’s most complex problems. Given the incredible threat of hypertension in Nashville, particularly as the illness disproportionately impacts minority communities, the Data Warehouse working group, “Healthy Community Insights,” will take on its first project focusing on developing creative interventions to address high blood pressure throughout the Nashville area. Moving forward, the team will analyze this aggregated data for insight into other challenges, health or otherwise, that keep people and communities throughout the mid-state region from flourishing. 

BDC Executive Director Charlie Apigian said the Belmont community wants to be radical champions for helping individuals and communities thrive. “We want to solve societal problems, and data is one of the best resources we have to accomplish that goal. We have an energetic team ready to analyze the data at our disposal to both find what is preventing our communities from flourishing and find solutions to those obstacles that will better the lives of those around us,” he said. “As data tells us the story of what is holding our communities back, we can inform meaningful, life-giving change. And we’re starting with health–one area of our lives that most impacts our ability to thrive.” 

The idea to establish the Data Warehouse to address hypertension originated with Tennessee Senator Bill Frist on behalf of NashvilleHealth, who first approached Belmont President Dr. Greg Jones. With Belmont’s commitment to strengthening its role as a data-driven, future shaping, community engaging organization, it was a quick “yes” to having BDC lead the charge. 

NashvilleHealth reports nearly one-third of adults in Nashville have been diagnosed as hypertensive, and that number increases for those without a high school diploma. Further illustrating the health disparities in the city, the Nashville Community Health + Well-being Survey found nearly half of African American adults in Nashville have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, compared to 27 percent of white, non-Hispanic Nashvillians.

Senator Frist said, “To drive the change needed for a healthier, more equitable Nashville, we must understand the disparities and inequities that exist and work to remove the obstacles to health that many in our community face. I am excited to see how the solutions developed from the Data Warehouse projects – and collaborative efforts of the many organizations involved – ensure that every Nashvillian has a fair and just opportunity to a long, healthy life.”

The initiative will take a community-based approach to health and wellbeing through a two-phased data analytics strategy. Currently in the first phase, the Healthy Community Insights team is collecting statewide data and working with community partners on storytelling services that will eventually inspire and empower others toward change. Upon analysis, the project team expects to complete Phase 2 with a report that will provide actionable insights into the determinants for hypertension, guiding solutions and interventions for better health outcomes within communities in Nashville.

NTT DATA, a global business and IT services leader that recently opened a Digital Innovation Center in Nashville, will provide BDC with vital analytics and advisory support to complete Phase 2’s actionable report. 

Lisa Esch, chief of strategy, innovation and provider industry solutions at NTT DATA Services said, “The technology to put health data to use improving the wellbeing of our communities is there, but taking on large scale projects requires resources, quality data and advanced analytics – a challenge for any organization to take on alone. This project will have long-lasting positive impacts for the community and can be a shining example of innovation that Nashville can be very proud of, and an example of collaboration for cities around the country and possibly the globe.”

In addition to NashvilleHealth and NTT DATA, several other early key community partners have joined the Healthy Community Insights group, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, ChangeHealthcare and the American Heart Association to name a few.

The NHH report is expected to be made available early this summer and will include actionable insight for change. BDC and its partners hope to define disparities on a local, community level and invite others to join the conversation as the city works together to create solutions that lead to flourishing lives for all Nashvillians.