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MaineHealth Releases Annual Health Index Report

June 18, 2019

MaineHealth has released its ninth consecutive Health Index Report, an annual review of progress on seven high-priority population health issues that impact the health status of people and communities across the MaineHealth service area. Used by policymakers, community organizations, hospital leaders, clinicians and other stakeholders, the Report has earned a reputation as an authoritative source of relevant and useful data and a high-level analysis of trends in key health outcomes.

The seven priority issues outlined in the Report include: childhood immunizations, tobacco use, obesity, preventable hospitalizations, cardiovascular deaths, cancer deaths, and prescription drug misuse and dependence. This year’s report also includes a special section about how MaineHealth and community partners are working together to address Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). Expanded summaries about the clinical, community and policy actions being undertaken to address each priority are available online at

In 2016, MaineHealth leaders set aggressive targets for each of the Health Index priorities as a way to challenge MaineHealth organizations to continue their work toward our vision of “working together so our communities are the healthiest in America.” The Report indicates that MaineHealth and our partners continue to make progress on the short-term targets for each priority health issue, which in turn will have a positive impact on long-term progress.

Key findings from the 2018 Health Index Report include:

  • The MaineHealth system has decreased the number of patients prescribed high-risk levels of opioids by 65 percent over three years. MaineHealth has also increased the number of patients receiving care for opioid use disorder through an integrated treatment model. As of August 31, 2018, MaineHealth had provided treatment to 1,009 patients, surpassing its short-term target of 900 patients treated in fiscal year 2018.
  • On-time childhood vaccination rates are the highest to date across MaineHealth pediatric and family medicine practices. As a result of increasing the focus on and coordination of activities to improve immunization rates systemwide, MaineHealth achieved its short-term target six months early. The largest increases were for the influenza vaccine (from 67 percent to 72 percent) and pneumococcal vaccine (from 89 percent to 94 percent).
  • MaineHealth providers significantly increased referrals to the Maine Tobacco HelpLine. There are still approximately 187,400 adults in Maine who currently smoke cigarettes. To help reduce this number, MaineHealth providers increased the number of patients whom they proactively referred from a rate of 6.43 referrals to 12.09 referrals per 100 active tobacco users. The achieved rate of 12.09 referrals translates to 3,040 primary care patients referred over one year via the Epic electronic medical record.
  • More patients are getting screened for colorectal cancer. The percentage of patients at primary care practices within the MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization who had appropriate screening for colorectal cancer rose from 70 percent as of June 2017 to 75 percent as of August 2018. As a result of a long-term collaborative effort to increase screening for colorectal cancer that involved clinical and public health organizations, colorectal cancer death rates have declined more in the MaineHealth service area than in the United States since 2000.
  • In recent years, rates of adult obesity in Maine have begun to stabilize. Having stable rates over time can be viewed as an intermediate step toward the ultimate goal of decreasing obesity. During 2011-2017, the estimated adult obesity rate in Maine ranged from 27.8 to 30.0 percent; importantly, there were no statistically significant increases or decreases during this period.
  • MaineHealth increased the number of adult primary care practice teams trained on the new adult obesity standard of care. Based on 10 years of successfully implementing strategies to reduce childhood obesity, Let’s Go! developed the Small Steps program to address adult obesity. As of September 2018, clinical teams at 25 of 38 MaineHealth adult primary care practices were trained in implementing the standard of care.
  • Practices within the MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization helped more patients to manage their blood pressure. Among patients diagnosed with hypertension, the percentage whose blood pressure was under control (<140/90 mmHg) improved substantially over three years, from 68 percent as of September 2015 to 76 percent as of September 2018.

“Strong, collaborative partnerships across the clinical, community and policy settings are the key to making progress on the Health Index priorities,” said Tim Cowan, director of data and reporting and evaluation for MaineHealth. “Working together we’ve been able to improve the health of our communities, as indicated by the decrease in colorectal cancer death rates highlighted in this year’s report.”

The Health Index Initiative website features data and graphics presenting progress, all designed to help users access and use the information to accelerate adoption of evidence-based and best practice interventions that will ultimately improve individual and community health.

To read the 2018 Health Index Report and explore the latest data, visit

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