Next week’s column has scheduled time off to brine its turkey, so this is the last column before the holiday. In keeping with the Thanksgiving season I wanted to share a short list of things I think we can be thankful for.
Yesterday was National Rural Health Day. Dozens of Missouri rural hospitals were recognized earlier this week as among the Top 100 nationally for success in quality, outcomes, patient satisfaction and financial strength. Providers in rural Missouri work hard to deliver top quality care with limited resources. I’m thankful that they are among the best of their peers nationally.
Excellence isn’t exclusively rural. Two weeks ago, for the first time, we recognized hospitals that were making significant strides in quality improvement and patient safety. The Aim for Excellence Awards were presented at the MHA Convention & Trade Show. The inaugural recipients include Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare in Clinton, Mo., Saint Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and SSM Health in St. Louis. The hospitals receiving honorable mention include Christian Hospital in St. Louis, CoxHealth in Springfield, Mo., and Cox Monett Hospital.
One of the Aim for Excellence Award recipient hospitals, Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare, was recognized this week with the Missouri Quality Award. Recognition as a standout among your peers is always satisfying. Being honored among all businesses for quality is worth a victory lap! I’m thankful that the commitment to improvement and the Triple Aim run incredibly deep in Missouri, and is not limited to large, multi-hospital health systems.
This morning, as I was pondering additional things to share here, I stumbled across an article from The Economist that bowled me over. Patrick Ruffini, a political pollster, asked the Twittersphere if it could find a more powerful predictor of turnout for President-elect Trump than the percentage of non-college educated whites. Before I expand on the findings, however, let me turn to two other articles in today’s news.
Today’s edition of The Washington Post includes a story, “Life and death in the United States, in two maps.” It summarizes new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that finds fewer Americans are dying of potentially preventable conditions, including cancer, stroke and heart disease. However, researchers found a significant increase — 23 percent — in deaths from unintentional injuries, mostly attributed to overdoses from prescription and illicit drugs, as well as falls.
The second article, “In America, the rich outlive the poor by up to 9.5 years, study says,” from the Los Angeles Times covered research from the American Journal of Public Health. Although poverty has both corollary and causal relationships with health, the numbers are powerful and the county-level analysis will inform additional research and investments.
Back to The Economist. As it turns out, health is a more powerful election predictor than education. County-level data on life expectancy and the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, heavy drinking and regular physical activity (or inactivity) explain how President-elect Trump added to Mitt Romney’s 2012 totals in many counties, putting him over the top in many of those counties and thus the win in some very close states.
The reporter explains, “The two categories significantly overlap: counties with a large proportion of whites without a degree also tend to fare poorly when it comes to public health. However, even after controlling for race, education, age, sex, income, marital status, immigration and employment, these figures remain highly statistically significant. Holding all other factors constant—including the share of non-college whites—the better physical shape a county’s residents are in, the worse Mr. Trump did relative to Mr. Romney.”
Here’s why all of this is important. Missouri hospitals are delivering better results and helping reduce the impact of cancer, stroke and heart disease. We’ve worked to build systems around the problem of opioid dependence and are working with other stakeholders to tackle the state’s lack of a prescription drug monitoring database.
The Hospital Industry Data Institute is providing foundational research to support investments in community and population health that help target health investments, bring better value to care and change lives. Missouri hospitals have been a leading voice for recognition of the influence of social factors on health. We understand that ZIP code is a powerful indicator of health.
Where there are challenges, there are opportunities. Next year at this time, I intend to tell you how we capitalized on them to build a better health care system for our patients and communities.
Centuries ago, the Pilgrims left the old world for the new, and in the fall celebrated their opportunity to build a better world with a harvest feast. Next week we will honor their journey to a better life. We can also use it as a time to reflect on how the year ahead offers opportunity for us to make a better life — in part through improved health — for all.
Let me know what you’re thinking. And, Happy Thanksgiving in advance.
In This Issue
Herb B. Kuhn
MHA President and CEO
DHSS Issues Health Advisory For Mumps In Central Missouri
National Terrorism Advisory System Issues Updated Bulletin