This one chart shows how far behind the US lags in healthcare

From the article by Christopher Ingraham on the World Economic Forum Website:

Is the money we’re spending on health care keeping us alive?

On a certain level, that’s the big test of any health-care system — and the United States is failing.

According to chart below, U.S. life expectancy continues to lag far behind other developed countries, despite spending way more on medical treatments aimed at keeping us alive.

US Healthcare lagsThe chart, courtesy of Oxford economist Max Roser, plots per-capita health-care spending against life expectancy for the world’s wealthiest countries over the past 40-plus years. Each country gets one line, which plots its trajectory on those measures over time.

Looking at the chart, two things become clear: As Roser notes, the big takeaway is that, in wealthy countries, more spending on health leads to a longer life expectancy.

But there’s a secondary finding: Not all health-care spending is created equal. In the United States, the inflation-adjusted per-capita annual health spending has exploded from 1970, when it was less than $500 a year, to 2014, when it was about $9,000 a year.

That’s $2,000 more per person per year than the second highest-spending country on the chart, Switzerland. But despite that big spending, growth in American life expectancy has been anemic. Essentially, we spend a lot of money but haven’t seen much in the way of life expectancy gains because of it.

Read the full article.

Call for Papers: Community-Academic Partnerships in Health Research in the Southeast

From the call issued by the Gulf States Health Policy Center and Progress in Community Health Partnerships:

Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) and the Gulf States Health Policy Center (GS-HPC) are collaborating to release this Call for Papers on the theme of “Community-Academic Partnerships in Health Research in the Southeast.”

This PCHP special issue aims to include articles on best practices in community-academic partnerships for improving health outcomes in the Southeast region of the United States, defined as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia, as a regional particularly vulnerable to health disparities. To this effect, we are inviting papers and products (see Author Guidelines) presenting research that was conducted by partnerships of community members and academics. We place a priority on manuscripts co-authored by community members and academics and those that include the community perspective of the research process. The call is open to all areas of health policy and/or health research, focusing on the community-academic process and/or results.

Download the full call for papers.

Upcoming HDRG Meetings

The Health Disparities Research Group (HDRG) is a multidisciplinary assembly of faculty, students, staff, and community representatives with a vision “to become an integral facilitator in eliminating health disparities through partnerships with our community.” Held the 3rd Friday of each month throughout the academic year, the meetings provide an opportunity to share research and cultivate a positive atmosphere for community-engagement in addressing health disparities.

The next meeting is April 21 at 1:00 pm in Bio-medical Library Room 222-A. Dr. C. Kenneth Hudson will provide an update on the project “The Impact of Labor Force/Labor Market Status On Access To Health Care”.

In May, Dr. Erick Goldschmidt, Director of the Spring Hill College Foley Center for Community Service, will share about their work.

 

NIMHD Health Disparities Research Institute

From the NIMHD Website:

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) will host the Health Disparities Research Institute (HDRI) from August 14 – 18, 2017. The HDRI aims to support the research career development of promising minority health/health disparities research scientists early in their careers and stimulate research in the disciplines supported by health disparities science.

The program will feature lectures, mock grant review, seminars, small group discussions on research relevant to minority health and health disparities. It will also include sessions with NIH scientific staff engaged in related health disparities research across the various institutes and centers.

Lectures and seminars will include:

  • Population science and health disparities
  • Research design and measurement approaches
  • Intervention Science methods
  • Healthcare disparities and outcomes research
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Grant writing and mock grant review

The didactics and small discussion groups will be structured based on areas of interest of participants. This will also include consultation on the development of research interests into an application – R21, R01, K award, as well as consultation on research strategies and methodologies for proposed studies.

For more information on the Health Disparities Research Institute and how to register, see the NIMHD website.

 

National Minority Health Month 2017: Bridging Health Equity Across Communities

Did you know that your zip code can be a predictor of your health? Along with your income and education level, where you are born, grow, live, work, play, learn, and age determines your quality of health. The choices you make each day about what to eat, when to work out and whether or not to see a doctor are important. The condition of your surroundings, or the social determinants of health, is the other part of the foundation upon which better health is built. However, many Americans, particularly racial and ethnic minority populations, are significantly impacted by the social determinants of health and the resulting disparities, or inequities, in health and health care.

Each April during National Minority Health Month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) raises awareness about health disparities, their causes and the impact they have on minority communities and on the nation as whole. This year, the HHS OMH is proud to join its partners in communities throughout the country as we build bridges to help end disparities in health and health care. Bridging health equity across communities extends beyond public health—it focuses attention on the indirect social and economic conditions in which we live. By addressing the social determinants of health and working together across sectors, we can help eliminate health disparities and advance health equity for everyone.

National Minority Health Month 2017 is focused on access to transportation that makes it possible to get to a well visit; neighborhoods where it is possible to exercise or play outdoors; and accessible grocery stores that make it possible to eat a well-balanced diet. Through collaboration with those who lead efforts to improve education, the safety of our neighborhoods, and other aspects of our communities, we can improve living conditions and help individuals live longer and healthier lives.

See the resource website developed by the Office of Minority Health for ideas and activities you can do around National Minority Health Month.

Raising Awareness about Health Disparities and Health Equity

The 2017 theme for National Minority Health Month — Bridging Health Equity Across Communitieshighlights the importance of collaborating across sectors and communities to address health disparities and the social determinants of health in the efforts to achieve health equity. As a part of National Minority Health Month, the Office of Minority Health developed a website — in English and Spanish —  with various tools and resources:

  • Example social media posts
  • Graphics for use on websites, in newsletters, and on social media
  • Listing of related blog articles
  • Suggested Action Steps

The website also lists upcoming events:

Decisive action by communities can reduce health disparities and improve lives

From the article by Risa Lavizzo-Mourey and Victor Dzau on STAT

Our choices for good health depend on our choices for everything else in life: a good education, safe and decent housing, a secure job that allows us to support our families.

What happens when those choices don’t exist? Ask Alpha Whitaker.

Whitaker, a single mom in Indianapolis who put herself through college, had to turn down a dream job because she didn’t have a safe way to get to work. Her bus route ended 10 blocks from the job, and she would have had to walk through a dangerous neighborhood — twice — every day.

In choosing safety, Whitaker gave up a job with full health benefits, a 401(k) plan to help her save for her daughter’s education, and a salary that would have allowed her family to move to a safer neighborhood. These things — financial security, health insurance, education, and neighborhood — influence health.

Fortunately, Indianapolis is one of many US communities working to create better choices for their residents in transportation, public safety, and employment. In doing so, they are creating better choices for health as well.

On the surface, the link might not be obvious. But as “Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity,” a new report from the National Academy of Medicine’s Culture of Health program shows, health equity and equal opportunity are inextricably linked. The report, commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, defines health equity as the state in which everyone has a chance to attain their full health potential.

Americans today live shorter, sicker lives than people in other developed countries. Across America, health varies by income, education, race and ethnicity, geography, sexual identity, and disability status. We pay a high price for these health disparities in lost lives, wasted potential, and squandered resources. They also affect national security: Some 26 million young adults are unqualified to serve in the United States military because of persistent health problems, poor education, or convictions for a felony. The report estimates that racial health disparities are projected to cost health insurers $337 billion between 2009 and 2018.

“Communities in Action” spotlights how communities are working together to create pathways to health equity. By addressing factors well beyond access to health insurance, cities like Indianapolis, Buffalo, Minneapolis, San Antonio, and Los Angeles are seeding the conditions needed to enjoy full, healthy lives.

Take the Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (IndyCAN), a multiracial, multifaith group that took on limited access to bus routes. That transportation issue created barriers to good jobs and opportunity. Working with a variety of stakeholders, including the residents most affected, IndyCAN helped pass a regional transit referendum to triple bus service in Indianapolis, fuel economic development, and increase access to jobs. Because all residents understood that improved bus service would benefit everyone in the community in a range of ways, the referendum passed last November — with the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce as a leading champion.

This is just one example of what a community can do to promote health equity. “Communities in Action” explores many other efforts to curb violence, boost education, improve social connectedness, and expand access to healthy foods — all of which create the opportunity for healthier lives. Although their approaches differ, these community efforts consistently bring a shared vision for promoting health equity, building and harnessing community capacity, and involving many different sectors to enlist broad buy-in.

Read the full article.

Sentinel Communities: Mobile, Alabama

The Sentinel Communities project — a part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Initiative — will track health outcomes in 30 cities to understand

  • Local health care landscape
  • How challenges can be addressed in areas with different geographic and historic landscapes
  • How communities make progress or address barriers in improving population health.

The Sentinel Communities were chosen to reflect the nation’s diversity in terms of demographics, geography, and approaches to health. The following, drawn from the first report about Mobile, AL., provide some context for health issues in city.

 

  • In addition to an overall 25% poverty rate for Mobile, significant income inequality exists between black and white residents, with black households earning about half the median income as white ones.
  • While educational attainment has increased among white residents, the percentage of black residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher declined between 2010 and 2014.
  • Despite progress, Mobile residents have a lower life expectancy and higher rates of teen pregnancy, obesity, smoking, and uninsurance than the national average.
  • Even with the introduction of a new Regional Care Organization that may improve insurance coverage for residents, Mobile remains a federally designated health care shortage area.

 

See the full report for charts on indicators such as income, teen pregnancy, mortality, and educational attainment as well as some of the initiatives currently in place to address health issues.

 

Introducing the Language Access Portal

From the article by Kelli Carrington on NIMHD Insights:

Many of us know what it’s like to feel overwhelmed during a doctor’s visit by information about health conditions, medicines, and behavior recommendations. For patients who don’t speak or understand English fluently, the situation can be more than overwhelming—it can be dangerous. Patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) are nearly three times more likely to have an adverse medical outcome.1

Language is one of the most significant barriers to health literacy, the ability to understand the basic health information needed to make good health decisions. Patients who lack health literacy are often unable to read or understand written health information or to speak with their healthcare providers about their symptoms or concerns. These patients are less likely to follow important health recommendations or be able to give informed consent.2

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 1 in 5 U.S. residents don’t speak English at home. Of that group, about 4 in 10, or 25 million people, have limited English proficiency.3 Many people with limited proficiency also live in households where no one speaks English well, meaning there isn’t a translator readily available to accompany them to doctor’s visits.

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) is committed to addressing these language barriers and to improving the health literacy and lives of everyone living in America. We’re excited to announce a new tool, the Language Access Portal, as a resource for the NIMHD research community, public and community health professionals, healthcare providers, and others who work with health disparity populations with LEP. The portal improves access to cross-cultural and linguistically appropriate health information produced by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), NIMHD, and other federal agencies.

The Language Access Portal pulls together health resources from across NIH in selected languages, particularly those languages spoken by populations experiencing significant health disparities. As we launch, the portal includes information in Spanish, Hindi, Tagalog, Korean, and Vietnamese. The portal currently has language resources for the following areas where health disparities have been identified:

Read the full article.

Highlights from the Commonwealth Fund Scorecard on State Health System Performance

From the Commonwealth Fund:

The 2017 edition of the Commonwealth Fund Scorecard on State Health System Performance finds that nearly all state health systems improved on a broad array of health indicators between 2013 and 2015. During this period, which coincides with implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s major coverage expansions, uninsured rates dropped and more people were able to access needed care, particularly those in states that expanded their Medicaid programs. On a less positive note, between 2011–12 and 2013–14, premature death rates rose slightly following a long decline. The Scorecard points to a constant give-and-take in efforts to improve health and health care, reminding us that there is still more to be done.

According to the 2017 scorecard, Alabama’s performance relative to the baseline score set in 2013 included:

  • Drop from 39 to 47 in overall performance.
  • Drop from 27 to 34 in terms of access Dropped from 36 to 42 in terms of prevention and treatment
  • Remain at 41 in terms of avoidable hospital use and cost
  • Drop from 41 to 45 in terms of healthy lives

See the full Alabama scorecard.