Why Oregon Healthiest State

Oregon Healthiest State

History of Oregon Healthiest State

Oregon Healthiest State is a privately led, publicly supported partnership that engages and inspires Oregonians to create and sustain healthy environments to support healthy lifestyles.

The effort was born in 2013 from observing the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative achieve impressive improvement in a short time. The Oregon Business Council visited their peer organization spearheading the work in Iowa to learn more. Impressed with the results in Iowa and eager to engage others, three Oregon Business Council companies –Cambia Health Solutions, Oregon Health and Science University and NIKE then launched an exploration of what it would take to do something similar.

In 2014, the organization hired its first staff – an Executive Director and a Project Manager – who set to work first to understand the landscape: With so many organizations doing great work across the spectrum of health, why was Oregon ranked 25th? After over 100 key informant interviews, a framework was built so new partners could both understand what they were joining and influence the direction.

From these conversations and to ensure that we did not achieve our goal while leaving people behind, the goal was broadened from simply becoming the healthiest state to specifically improving the health of all Oregonians and improving health equity. Foundational to the framework was building a common agenda, shared measurement, mutually reinforcing activities, and continuous communication. Additionally, a commitment to reducing disparities and having a bias toward action were called out.

Drawing from the CDC’s Health Impact Pyramid, Oregon health experts noted that while there was already great work going on in most levels of the pyramid, there was an opportunity to leverage the private business sector involvement to influence the second level of the pyramid, “Changing the context to make healthy choices easier”. It was also noted that opportunity existed to better coordinate efforts at every level of the pyramid.

In 2015 over 70 organizations from throughout the state had joined the movement, the Steering Committee increased in size and diversity, and the first State of Health in Oregon report delivered key points from over a dozen existing reports. Over 250 formal and informal leaders from health and non-health related sectors came together to build a common understanding of the most pressing health issues in Oregon and dig in to change our story. Workgroups emerged on topics ranging from Financial Peace of Mind to Health and the Outdoors (www.oregon.healthandoutdoors.org). Notably, an Employer Team launched late in the year exploring what it would take to inspire employers from throughout the state to commit to making it easier for employees to make healthy choices.

2016…. We have great expectations!

Want to learn more? We suggest you explore our approach next.

2015 State of Oregon Health Report

Read and review the findings from our joint report on the progress and opportunities our state has made towards achieving the #1 state health ranking. Download the PDF now.