Why Health Rankings Matter
The health ranking of a country is an important measure of success along with other things such as economic status. For people living in the United States, it is even more important to look at health rankings at a smaller scale to see how it is impacting each person, their communities, and then measure against the health status of the entire country. For Hoosiers, the health outcomes of Indiana compared to other states in the U.S. is an important measure of the quality of life in our state.
“Health outcomes in the County Health Rankings represent measures of how long people live and how healthy people feel. Length of life is measured by premature death (years of potential life lost before age 75) and quality of life is measured by self-reported health status (% of people reporting poor or fair health and the number of physically and mentally unhealthy days within the last 30 days) and the % of low birth weight newborns.”
Indiana’s Health Ranking
Traditionally, the state of Indiana has not ranked very well compared to the rest of the country when it comes to various health outcomes. The U.S. News and World Report provides data each year on how individual states perform.
“The Best States ranking of U.S. states draws on thousands of data points to measure how well states are performing for their citizens. In addition to health care and education, the metrics take into account a state’s economy, the opportunity and quality of life it offers people, its roads, bridges, internet and other infrastructure, its public safety and the fiscal stability of state government.”
Two years ago in 2016, Indiana managed to climb to 39th place overall but the state is still facing some major health challenges.
“A raft of unhealthy behaviors and complications, from smoking and drug abuse to obesity and cardiovascular problems, is costing Hoosiers years from their lives and taxpayers untold dollars in lost productivity and health care costs.”
According to the latest America’s Health Rankings Report from the United Health Foundation, Indiana ranks 38th in health overall. Some of the lowest health rankings in Indiana include:
- smoking (41st place)
- obesity (40th place)
- infant mortality (42nd place)
- diabetes (37th)
- air pollution (46th place)
What’s even more concerning is that many of the low health rankings, such as infant mortality and smoking, affect minorities and people of lower income status at a much higher rate compared to other Indiana residents. While minorities continue to fair worse than those who are Caucasian, these trends are similar national averages. This means that people of ethnic minorities are no worse off in Indiana than they are in any other state in the country, although more has to be done about this.
The Positive News for Hoosiers
Fortunately, there is some good news. Indiana ranks as a leader in health research and there is a widespread commitment to tackling Indiana’s poor health ranking through inclusive clinical research and community outreach efforts. Academic research organizations such as the Indiana Clinical & Translational Sciences Institute are bringing together the best in research from Indiana University, Purdue University, and the University of Notre Dame to tackle some of Indiana’s top health challenges. Additionally, the Indiana State Health Department and other community organizations are all coming together to contribute towards improving health outcomes in Indiana. And Indiana is home to one of the healthiest counties in the nation.
“While Indiana is one of the least healthy states, residents of Hamilton County report some of the healthiest behaviors and outcomes of any county nationwide.”
Additionally, much of the community-based research is aimed at helping Indiana to address the health disparities among minorities and residents with lower income.
How Hoosiers Can Make A Difference
“Indiana residents can make a big impact on the health of their communities by sharing the health challenges in their communities and being involved in finding solutions that fit their communities. Another important way you can make a difference is to get involved in health research so that we can understand how different health conditions and diseases affect different groups of people”, said Tiffany Campbell, Director of All IN for Health.
With Indiana’s strong research expertise and community organizations working together to tackle these health issues, Indiana can become one of the Top 10 healthiest states.