2017 Annual Report: Improving Population Health
Innovative Health Solutions for the People We Serve
Focusing on the health of our communities isn’t just a good thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. As the largest health care system in northern New England, it’s our duty to develop innovative programs and initiatives to improve the health of the people we serve.
Through clinical, community and policy strategies, we continuously strive to achieve our vision of working together so our communities are the healthiest in America.
Using Data to Guide Our Actions
Data is essential to our population health efforts. Using the latest clinical and community-level data available, our Health Index initiative routinely assesses progress being made and identifies opportunities for improving health across our entire service area.
The Health Index measures progress on seven high-priority health issues: childhood immunizations, tobacco use, obesity, preventable hospitalizations, cardiovascular deaths, cancer deaths, and prescription drug abuse and addiction. Since all of these issues are known to have a major impact on overall health status, we concentrate our community health improvement efforts in these areas.
As a system, MaineHealth has established two aggressive targets for each of the seven Health Index priorities: a short-term target (ending in September 2018) for interventions underway at MaineHealth organizations and a long-term target (ending in September 2021) for measures that monitor health across the broader community populations. Taken together, achieving the targets for these seven priority areas will make our service area a healthier place.
Implementing Strategies to Achieve Health Targets
Obesity is one of our most pressing health priorities. In the MaineHealth service area, 30 percent of adults are obese. Among Maine students, 23 percent of fifth-graders are obese. While these rates have remained steady over recent years, there is still much work to be done to decrease the prevalence of obesity.
One strategy to both prevent and reduce obesity is to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables. To achieve this goal, MaineHealth implements evidence-based programs such as Let’s Go!, a nationally recognized childhood obesity prevention program.
As a result of the Let’s Go! program, healthy behaviors are increasing: A recent study found that 125 schools registered with Let’s Go! had significantly higher percentages of students eating five or more fruits and vegetables a day compared with all schools in Maine.