EDITORIAL: NWI health data are vital statistics

2013-06-02T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: NWI health data are vital statistics nwitimes.com
June 02, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer have been ranked among the top health concerns in the region. Sound familiar?

Those same concerns have been talked about for decades. We eat too much, smoke too much and exercise too little. We don't need a fancy new study to tell us that.

We do, however, need that study to measure the extent of the problem so appropriate targets can be set and approaches developed to hit those goals.

Community Healthcare System, Methodist Hospitals and Franciscan Alliance worked together on the Community Health Needs Assessment of Northwest Indiana residents. That assessment is a requirement of the Affordable Care Act and Internal Revenue Service.

An Omaha, Neb., company was hired to conduct 1,350 interviews with residents so the hospitals can identify key issues and provide annual reports to the IRS.

Under Obamacare, outcomes will be a major factor in health care providers' compensation.

The reports for the three health systems address health, social, economic and other factors, all of them important as interdisciplinary teams determine what approaches might work best for various demographic groups. For example, is fear or economics the driving force behind the high percentage of residents who haven't visited a dentist in the past year? The answer will help determine what should be done to try to get more people to seek dental care on a regular basis.

Data like this are important for individual and collective health.

Among the findings of One Region's Quality of Life Indicators report last fall was that data on a number of factors related to health were sadly lacking.

That's why reports like this Community Health Needs Assessment must be put in the public arena.

The results of the community health needs assessment are not surprising, but the data are important for the public to be able to see how to maintain efforts where the region is doing well and where additional effort and focus are needed.

This is something everyone should be interested in. After all, it's our own health we're talking about.

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