Regional Health Care Assessment
Health Status & Disparities:
Health Status and Disparities
Community health outcomes are often a factor of specific behaviors, socio-economic circumstances and the environments in which people live, as well as their access to quality health care. Comparing trends over time and disparities by geography and race or ethnicity can help communities identify and address health issues. The following issue briefs provide data for key indicators where changes in behavior, resource allocation or policies could have an impact on community health, including:
- Premature Deaths — Measures the years of potential life lost due to premature death, infant mortality, and incidence and trends in leading causes of death (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and suicide).
- Older Adults — Measures population growth, causes of death and incidence of depression in those age 65 or older.
Diabetes and Obesity — Measures the prevalence of these two conditions, the rate of change and trends in hospitalizations.
Preventable Hospitalizations — Measures trends in hospitalizations for both acute and chronic conditions that are preventable, including illnesses such as pneumonia and influenza and chronic conditions such as heart disease, respiratory ailments, diabetes and hypertension.
Mental Health — Measures the number of poor mental health days experienced by residents, hospital discharge rates for mental disorders and deaths by suicide.
Oral Health — Measures the number of adults who have poor dental health, those who have not received dental care in the last 12 months, and access to dental care.
Health Disparities — Summarizes health disparities identified for various health outcomes, comparing by geography (rural, urban and suburban counties) and by race or ethnicity.
There are two major takeaways from the data in this section. First, in broad terms, health seems to be improving in the region. Preventable hospitalizations are trending down, and so are mortality rates for major diseases. Although obesity and diabetes continue to increase, the rate of increase for obesity has slowed.
Second, we should note that not all residents of the region are experiencing these positive trends. While declining overall, preventable hospitalizations are on the rise for minority populations. Mortality rates vary widely across the 11 counties in the study area, with rural and urban counties still experiencing much higher incidence of premature death than suburban counties. Also, obesity prevalence is significantly higher for blacks and Hispanics than for whites, and the mortality rate from diabetes is twice as high as that for whites. Targeting resources to better serve people in specific places and specific groups who are experiencing poorer health outcomes could improve overall regional health. This will become an increasing issue if not addressed, because these populations are increasing in numbers and are migrating to all corners of the region.
Additional conclusions from the data found in this section include:
- While premature death is decreasing in most counties, there is still a wide variation across the region with suburban counties significantly outperforming rural and urban counties.
- Heart disease and cancer remain the leading causes of death in the region by a significant margin. Mortality rates from these diseases are down from 2003 in most counties, although deaths from heart disease rose again between 2014 and 2015 in many counties.
- Preventable hospitalizations continue to decline across the region as a whole, but are higher than the national rate in many counties.
- Obesity and diabetes rates continue to rise, but the increase in obesity rates has slowed.
- The death rate for adults age 65 and over is declining for all causes — including Alzheimer’s — except accidents.
- Suicide rates continue to rise, indicating a need for a stronger focus on mental health care.
Data is the most current available as of September 2017.
Produced by the Mid-America Regional Council for the REACH Healthcare Foundation | www.marc2.org/healthdata ©