Key Health Indicators Highlight Community Health Successes and Challenges
MaineHealth, a non-profit family of hospitals including Pen Bay Healthcare and other healthcare providers, has released its Annual Health Index Report, which is becoming known regionally as a comprehensive annual summary of community health across MaineHealth’s large region, which includes approximately three-fourths of the state’s population.
Now in its fourth year, the Health Index Report shares key findings and trends specific to Maine and the eleven counties in MaineHealth’s service area. The report shares successful community, clinical and policy strategies and highlights partnerships working to improve individual and community population health.
In Knox County, Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 Knox County worked to increase physical activity and healthy eating among children and families in Knox County schools, child care. after school, health care, workplace, and community settings. Pen Bay Medical Center worked to reduce preventable hospitalizations and unnecessary emergency room use.
“The Health Index is a valuable tool that helps take stock of progress on many of Maine’s top health issues,” stated Tim Cowan, director of the MaineHealth Index Initiative. MaineHealth recently launch a new Health Index website that includes more detailed regional data pertinent to the seven Health Index priorities and highlights actions underway to improve individual and community health across the region.
The Health Index report includes highlights from America’s Health Rankings, a well-respected industry barometer which allows health officials to compare Maine’s key health indicators against those of other states. America’s Health Rankings annually ranks the 50 states, based on a broad spectrum of measures, which include health behaviors, policies and the environments in which people are born, grow up, live, work, play and age. In the 2013 edition, Maine was ranked the 16th healthiest state overall. Maine ranked as the fifth healthiest state among the 24 states with a median annual household income similar to Maine’s – between $45,000 and $50,000.
Report Highlights – Four of the seven key health measures tracked by MaineHealth improved, including:
- Increase childhood immunizations – Up-to-date immunization rate continued to rise; three of four toddlers received all doses for seven recommended vaccines on time.
- Decrease tobacco use – Maine’s smoking rate decreased, but one in five adults in Mainers still smokes.
- Decrease cardiovascular deaths – Maine’s cardiovascular death rate continued to decrease to 13th lowest in the nation.
- Decrease prescription drug abuse and addiction – Maine’s drug death rate decreased slightly and remained 21st lowest in the nation.
The remaining three measures in the Health Index have seen some progress, but still present challenges for Maine communities:
- Decrease obesity – Use of Let’s Go! evidence-based strategies increased. Let’s Go works in multiple settings (schools, child care, after school, health care, worksites and communities to promote healthy eating and physical activity, two strategies than can improve obesity.
- Decrease cancer deaths – Maine’s age-adjusted cancer death rate was the 12th highest in the nation. Maine’s rates of types of cancers that are known to be linked to tobacco use are significantly higher, compared to overall U.S. rates. All rates are adjusted to account for differences in the age of populations being compared.
- Decrease preventable hospitalizations – Maine’s rate rose slightly, but work continues to improve transitions from one care setting to another, thereby reducing unnecessary hospitalizations.
The Health Index Report can be found online at www.mainehealth.org. Speakers are available to present the results of the 2013 Report and highlight local actions underway to address the priorities. To request a presentation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. A complete copy of the America’s Health Rankings® 2013 Edition, which compares Maine to all states in the U.S., can be found at www.americashealthrankings.org.
MaineHealth is a not-for-profit family of leading high-quality providers and other healthcare organizations working together so their communities are the healthiest in America. Ranked among the nation’s top 100 integrated healthcare delivery networks, MaineHealth member organizations include Maine Medical Center, Lincoln County Healthcare, Maine Mental Health Partners, Memorial Hospital, Pen Bay Healthcare, Southern Maine Health Care, Waldo County Healthcare, Western Maine Health, HomeHealth Visiting Nurses, Maine Physician Hospital Organization, NorDx and Synernet. Affiliates of MaineHealth include MaineGeneral Health, Mid Coast Health Services, New England Rehabilitation Hospital of Portland and St. Mary’s Health System. www.mainehealth.org.