A report ranking all 50 states on how they’re dealing with public health issues places New York at number 10 this year.
The 2017 America’s Health Rankings report from the United Health Foundation looks at 35 measures covering behaviors, community and environment, policy, clinical care, and outcomes data to rank every state across the nation in how they deal with public health issues. Moving up three ranks since last year, New York State now sits at number 10 in the country.
“What that tells us is that New York is doing fairly well and progressing towards becoming a healthier and healthier state,” said Dr. Adam Aponte, Medical Director of UnitedHealthcare Community and State for New York. “It’s still not in the top five, but interestingly enough the top five are all in the northeast region.”
Among the five categories, New York’s best overall average comes in the policy arena where it ranked eighth in the nation. Within that category, its strongest individual assessment is in the percentage of males aged 13 to 17 receiving immunization for Human papillomavirus (HPV).
New York is one of only four states across the country with an average of more than 200 primary care physicians per 100,000 people – 215.5 to be exact, placing it at number two in the nation. And while its the best measure in the Clinical Care category, that high number isn’t necessarily benefitting everyone in the state equally, according to Aponte. Looking at the data through the lens of “a tale of two New Yorks,” he noted that large populations, leading medical institutions, and doctors are concentrated downstate.
“So those things, I think, really skew to a certain degree some of the data, because some of the more remote parts of New York – upstate and more remote areas – transportation is a big issue in terms of access to care,” said Aponte. “The number of primary care doctors are not as concentrated as, perhaps, you see in New York City.”
Nevertheless, it’s still good news for New Yorkers, as seen in the low number of premature death rates – another third-in-the-nation ranking for the state.
“If that means that we’re focusing more on preventive care than taking care of urgent care or episodic care, then really that’s our goal,” Aponte said. “We want folks to be coming to the doctor to prevent illnesses or prevent them from getting further exacerbated, instead of at the time of disease or when disease is a tremendous burden on them.”
Low birthweight is another standout in the clinical care category. Though it ranks at 21 overall, New York is among three states with statistically significant decreases over the past five years. Aponte said the results reflect efforts to improve access to prenatal care across the population.
“Mothers and their families are linked into care much sooner,” Aponte explained. “They’re being monitored much more closely. Things that impact prematurity rates, we’re sort of identifying early on and addressing those issues during the pregnancy, and really kind of holding the mother’s hand throughout the pregnancy to ensure that she has a healthier full-term baby.”
New York’s three worst subcategories include rates of Chlamydia, with 524.7 cases per 100,000 people and a national rank of 39, disparity in health status with a rank of 39, and high school graduation rates ranking at 38.