Just in time for resolutions, website offers Hoosiers way to assess health

Just in time for New Year's resolutions, a newly-launched website offers Hoosiers - and residents of each of the state's 92 counties - a chance to assess their health.

The goal, sponsors say, is to give health providers the information they need to help improve the health of their communities.

"The IndianaINdicators website offers a wide array of tools and data to help users understand their community's performance and progress toward being a healthy place to live and work," says Dr. Jerry Conover, director of the Indiana Business Research Center.
Conover's group teamed with the Indiana State Department of Health and the Indiana Hospital Association to assemble the information, which can be accessed at www.indianaIndicators.org.

The website, which was launched on Dec. 19, offers information on more than 90 key indicators, including community health, economy, education, environment and public safety. The information can be viewed at county, township and school district levels.

Some of the wide array of facts listed on the site for Huntington County include:

• Huntington County was the seventh fattest county in Indiana in 2012, with 35.1 percent of its adults (18 and older) considered obese. Madison County, with 36.8 percent of its adults considered obese, was first; Hamilton County, with an adult obesity rate of 22.1 percent, was 92nd.

• Overall, 16.2 percent of Huntington County residents said they were in fair or poor health, giving the county a ranking of 50. Scott County was in first place, with 27.3 percent of its residents in fair or poor health; the figure stood at just 8.7 percent in Hamilton County, which ranked 92nd.

• Twenty percent of Huntington County adults (ages 18-64) don't have health insurance. That places Huntington County 43rd in the rankings, with LaGrange County, where 37 percent of adults are without health insurance, taking the top spot, Hamilton County ranks 92nd, with just 12.6 percent of its adults lacking health insurance.

• During 2012, 14.1 percent of Huntington County residents said they didn't have enough money to see a doctor. Crawford County had the highest percentage, 25.3 percent, and Hamilton County the lowest, 7.4 percent. Huntington County ranked 47th.

• The study says that 11.2 percent of Huntington County residents have incomes below the poverty level, with the county ranking 35th in the state. Monroe County had the highest poverty rate, 25.3 percent, and Hamilton County the lowest, 4.7 percent.

• Huntington County has 6.7 fast food restaurants per 100,000 population, the 24th highest in the state. Johnson County has the most, 8.9 per 100,000, and Parke County the least, 1.7.

• Huntington County had a ranking of 69th in the number of liquor stores, 8.1 per 100,000 population. Benton County had the most, 33.9 per 100,000, and Clay County the least,3.7 per 100,000.

• As far as violent crime, Huntington County ranked 37th, with 114.7 violent crimes reported per 100,000 population. Jasper County reported the most violent crime, 1,168.8 per 100,000, and White County the least, 25.1 per 100,000.

"The INdicators website is an example of how pockets of information can be put together in a meaningful way to see a bigger picture," says State Health Commissioner Gregory Larkin, M.D. "The site will help us to better understand trends and to evaluate public health interventions as we track the information collected over time. Our hope is that it will be especially useful to public health entities as we move toward accreditation in Indiana."

Nonprofit hospitals are required to carry out community health needs assessments and community health improvement plans to meet their community benefit requirements, as are local health departments applying for public health accreditation. The information on IndianaINdicators.org can be used to help perform and guide these efforts.

"Improving public health is the joint commitment of every Indiana hospital, the state and community leaders," said Doug Leonard, Indiana Hospital Association president. "The new website is one more resource for health care leaders and the public to work together to make positive improvements in the health care delivery system."