CVS Health, in conjunction with the U.S. News & World Report, has released its annual compilation of the “Healthiest Communities” in the United States.
The top 10 “Healthiest Communities” are:
- Los Alamos County, New Mexico
- Falls Church, Virginia
- Douglas County, Colorado
- Morgan County, Utah
- Carver County, Minnesota
- Sioux County, Iowa
- Ozaukee County, Wisconsin
- Hamilton County, Indiana
- Broomfield County, Colorado
- Delaware County, Ohio
This data has been compiled after analyzing and studying nearly 89 health related metrics, including education, population health, infrastructure and other community milestones. One of the most important aspects that it correlates is a community’s efforts regarding social determinants of health (SDoH), illuminating that this metric is a significant contributor to the overall wellness of a community.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Social determinants of health (SDOH) are the conditions in the environments where people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship, and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks.” SDoH can be broadly categorized into five domains: Economic Stability, Education Access and Quality, Healthcare Access and Quality, Neighborhood and Built Environment, and Social and Community Context.
Jericho, N.Y.: Health care professionals take a break awaiting patients as they test for COVID-19 at … [+] the ProHEALTH testing site in Jericho, New York, March 24, 2020. (Photo by Steve Pfost/Newsday RM via Getty Images)
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I’ve written in the past about the value of SDoH and how these factors are crucial to healthcare outcomes. Without a doubt, the research is clear: communities that cannot achieve success in SDoH fail to achieve positive and meaningful healthcare outcomes.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Vice President and Chief Health Equity Officer of CVS Health explains: “We all know the significant impact that social determinants have on the health and well-being of individuals and our local communities […] The data we collect helps us determine the best way to collaborate with communities to develop sustainable solutions and advance health equity in a way that meets their unique needs.”
It has been well documented that the United States has some of the highest healthcare expenditures when compared to its global counterparts. However, in a similar comparison, the U.S. also has far lower life expectancy rates than other comparable nations. Why is this? Because time and again, research has elucidated that increased spend does not necessarily correlate with better outcomes. Rather, an emphasis on health equity, access to care, and overall improvement in SDoH are the key factors which ultimately improve a society’s healthcare outcomes.
This is why reports such as this by CVS are so important, as they serve as a learning tool for communities worldwide. Cities and areas that have found success in their health metrics must continue to provide their constituencies with the resources it takes to elevate their health even further. For those that have not been as successful, these serve as learning opportunities to emulate and glean wisdom from other communities, so that they too can become the best vehicles of health for the people that they ultimately serve.