Ohio’s Health Assessment Points to Key Problems and Possible Solutions

Ohio’s 2016 health assessment has been released. It was produced by the Health Policy Institute of Ohio on contract with the Ohio Department of Health and is designed to provide an overview of the health issues facing the state. 

The assessment found Ohio’s biggest challenges are addiction, mental health, chronic diseases and wide disparities in health outcomes. However, the state also has the opportunity to make significant progress in combatting these issues, which will be addressed in the state health improvement plan that is expected to be released by the end of this year.

Widespread addiction—to opioids and nicotine—tops the list of health challenges. In addition to opioid overdoses, the report cites increases in the number of children born with adverse health conditions caused by their mother’s drug use. And, tobacco use contributes to chronic disease and infant mortality, both of which plague a large number of Ohioans. “Compared to the U.S., Ohio has higher rates of adult smoking, youth all-tobacco use, mothers smoking during pregnancy and children being exposed to secondhand smoke at home,” according to the report.

Ohio also has high rates of obesity and hypertension, as reported by nearly a third of the adult population, and the rate of adult diabetes rose from 10.4% in 2013 to 11.7% in 2014.

The findings also indicate disparities between race, age, and geography in a number of categories. Although more Ohioans have access to care, local health departments, hospitals and other healthcare professionals cite concerns with the distribution and capacity of providers, especially for behavioral health and dental care.

In the assessment, it was suggested that in the effort to improve health, consideration must be given to children, who can develop chronic illnesses early, as well as the aging baby boom generation. Data collection efforts could be one way the state can improve the assessment of health issues, according to the report.

The assessment also cites collaboration across different agencies and payment reform as ways to improve the state’s health infrastructure.

To read the entire health assessment, click here.

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