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October 13, 2020
David Burda
COVID-19 Economics Outcomes System Dynamics

What’s Your State of Health?

As I watch COVID-19 cases ebb and flow around the country over the past eight months, I wonder if any place consistently is safer than another. After repeatedly watching this very cool yet very scary animated map posted on Twitter by the Brown School of Public Health, the answer is no. Until we get a federally coordinated plan to fight the pandemic that everyone follows, not just intelligent people who believe in science, outbreak maps like these will keep flashing well into next year.   

But, assuming the pandemic does end one day, where should the survivors live or relocate if they want to stay as healthy as possible in the future? 

The short answer is Hawaii. Or, Massachusetts, if you don’t want to travel over the Pacific.

The long answer comes from two recent reports that rank the healthcare systems in every state.

The first is the annual Scorecard on State Health System Performance from The Commonwealth Fund. You can download the 57-page 2020 scorecard here.   

The Commonwealth Fund uses 49 different healthcare system performance measures in four domains to rank the states. The four domains are: access and affordability; healthy lives; potentially avoidable hospital use and cost; and prevention and treatment.  

The five states with the best healthcare systems, in ranked order, are:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Massachusetts
  3. Minnesota
  4. Iowa
  5. Connecticut

Hawaii finished in the top quartiles of all four domains while the other four states finished in the top quartiles of three of the four domains. 

The second report comes from Sharecare, an Atlanta-based health and wellness engagement platform. The company publishes something called the Community Well-Being Index, and you can download the 20-page report with the latest CWBI here

The CWBI ranks states based on the combination of two other indices maintained by the company: the Well-Being Index and the Social Determinants of Health Index.

The Well-Being Index scores states in five domains: community; financial; physical; purpose; and social. The Social Determinants of Health Index scores states in five domains: economic security; food access; healthcare access; housing and transportation; and resource access. 

When you put the two indices together, you get the CWBI and you get the following five states finishing in the top five spots:

  1. Hawaii
  2. Massachusetts
  3. New Jersey
  4. New York
  5. California

Jeff Arnold, who founded and is the former CEO of WebMD, is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Sharecare. Mehmet Oz, M.D., aka, Dr. Oz, is Sharecare’s other co-founder. I felt compelled to say that. 

Still, two unrelated state healthcare rankings coming up with the same results say something.

The Commonwealth Fund ranked my home state of Illinois 25th. Sharecare had Illinois in the 12th spot.

I think I’ll stay put for now. But if things get worse, I know where to go.

Thanks for reading.

Stay home. Stay safe. Stay alive.

About the Author

David Burda

David Burda began covering healthcare in 1983 and hasn’t stopped since. Dave writes this monthly column “Burda on Healthcare,” contributes weekly blog posts, manages our weekly newsletter 4sight Friday, and hosts our weekly Roundup podcast. Dave believes that healthcare is a business like any other business, and customers — patients — are king. If you do what’s right for patients, good business results will follow.

Dave’s personnel experiences with the healthcare system both as a patient and family caregiver have shaped his point of view. It’s also been shaped by covering the industry for 40 years as a reporter and editor. He worked at Modern Healthcare for 25 years, the last 11 as editor.

Prior to Modern Healthcare, he did stints at the American Medical Record Association (now AHIMA) and the American Hospital Association. After Modern Healthcare, he wrote a monthly column for Twin Cities Business explaining healthcare trends to a business audience, and he developed and executed content marketing plans for leading healthcare corporations as the editorial director for healthcare strategies at MSP Communications.

When he’s not reading and writing about healthcare, Dave spends his time riding the trails of DuPage County, IL, on his bike, tending his vegetable garden and daydreaming about being a lobster fisherman in Maine. He lives in Wheaton, IL, with his lovely wife of 40 years and his three children, none of whom want to be journalists or lobster fishermen.

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