April 19, 2018

Report: Cumberland is healthiest county, Washington least healthy

About MaineHealth

MaineHealth member organizations include Maine Medical Center, Coastal Healthcare Alliance (Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County General Hospital), Franklin Community Health Network, LincolnHealth, Maine Behavioral Healthcare, Memorial Hospital, Southern Maine Health Care, Western Maine Health, MaineHealth Care at Home, and NorDx; the MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization is also part of the MaineHealth family. Affiliates of MaineHealth include MaineGeneral Health, Mid Coast-Parkview Health, New England Rehabilitation Hospital of Portland and St. Mary's Health System.

Cumberland County is the healthiest county in the state, according to comparisons based on five metrics contained in the 2018 County Health Rankings within MaineHealth's annual health index report. It's the second year in a row that Cumberland was ranked as the healthiest of Maine's 16 counties.

For the second year in a row, Washington County ranked last among Maine counties, based on statewide comparisons of lifespan (which comprises 50% of the weighted metric rankings) and quality of life, which is based on percentages of adults reporting poor or fair health as well as poor physical or mental health days in the previous months, and the percentage of babies who are born live with low birth rates.

MaineHealth's eighth annual health index report offers a yearly measurement of seven high-priority health issues:

  • Childhood immunizations
  • Tobacco use
  • Obesity
  • Preventable hospitalizations
  • Cardiovascular deaths
  • Cancer deaths
  • Prescription drug abuse and addiction.

In 2016, MaineHealth leaders set aggressive targets for each of those priorities as a way to challenge the health system's member organizations to continue "working together so our communities are the healthiest in America." The latest health index report indicates that MaineHealth and our partners continued to make progress in 2017 on the short-term targets for each priority health issue, which MaineHealth said should have a positive impact on long-term progress.

"The key to moving ahead on these priorities is partnerships," said Deborah Deatrick, MaineHealth's senior vice president for community health improvement. "Whether it's partnerships between hospitals and schools, government public health agencies and health systems, or other unique collaborations — there are so many great examples of how we are making Maine a healthier state by working together."

Highlights of the report

Key findings from the 2017 health index report include:

  • On-time childhood vaccination rates are the highest to date across MaineHealth pediatric and family medicine practices. After remaining at 55% for the months between January 2016 and April 2017, the MaineHealth system's up-to-date rate for the 10 vaccines recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention increased to 58% as of December 2017. To be considered up-to-date on all 10 vaccines, a 2-year-old child must have received 24-plus doses within the time frames established in the CDC's immunization schedule.
  • MaineHealth providers significantly increased referrals to the Maine Tobacco HelpLine. The total number of tobacco users referred in 2017 was 30% higher than in 2015 and 45% higher than in 2016.
  • More patients are getting screened for colorectal cancer. The percentage of patients at primary care practices within the MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization who had appropriate screening for colorectal cancer rose from 65% in December 2016 to 74% as of December 2017.
  • MaineHealth increased the number of adult primary-care practice teams trained on the new adult obesity standard of care. Based on 10 years of successfully implementing strategies to reduce childhood obesity, the Let's Go! Initiative developed the Small Steps program to address adult obesity.
  • In response to the state having had the fifth largest increase in drug overdose deaths in the nation (comparing rates from 2011-2013 to 2014-2016) MaineHealth decreased the number of patients prescribed high-risk levels of opioids and increased the number of patients receiving treatment for opioid use disorder.

Although screenings increased for colorectal cancer — the third leading cause of cancer death, according to MaineHealth — the 2017 health index reported that death rates for all cancers remained relatively constant in MaineHealth's service area at 171.3 per 100,000 for 2014-2016 compared to 171.6 per 100,000 for 2012-14.

By comparison, the all-cancer death rates for the United States decreased significantly over those same time periods, from 163.7 per 100,000 in 2012-14 to 158.6 per 100,000 in 2014-16.


MaineHealth 2017 Health Index Report


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