Thursday, May 30, 2013

Health Care Report Card: Fewer Hospital Readmissions, Lower Percentage of Health Screenings

Posted By on Thu, May 30, 2013 at 2:04 PM

With the number of Idaho seniors expected to double within the next two decades, the director for United Healthcare says a new report card on healthcare for seniors should be required reading.

The good news: Idaho ranked high in volunteerism and low prevalences of hospital readmissions. The challenges: Idaho has a high prevalence of activity-limiting arthritis pain and a low percentage of health screenings.

“I think the reason for this report is the recognition that the baby boomers are starting to move into their senior years,” Dr. Robert Beauchamp, Medical Director for United Healthcare in Idaho told Boise Weekly. “Not only that, they are living longer.”

Beauchamp pointed to the just-released United Health Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings Senior Report, which ranks Idaho 24th in the nation for senior health.

“Let’s be clear, this is really quite good, you’re at least in the top half which is in fact an accomplishment,” said Beauchamp.

The report card ranked Idaho second in the nation for a low rate of hospital readmissions and fourth for a low prevalence of preventable hospitalizations, indicating seniors are participating in regular check-ups and treatment.

“Those things [regular check-ups] seem to be happening because when they don’t happen, then the patient ends up back in the hospital,” said Beauchamp.

The report card indicated Idaho still has its challenges: The state was ranked 49th in the nation for pain management for the elderly. Beauchamp said he saw the findings as a way for healthcare professionals to target areas in need of treatment.

“One of the reasons for this study is to point out opportunities for physicians who might be interested in pain management,” said Beauchamp. “This might be helpful in finding communities where it would appear, because of this increase of seniors, there would be a real opportunity to practice.”

Idaho was ranked 46th in the U.S. for senior community support. Beauchamp said the ranking highlights the need for more local programs focused on maintaining and improving the lives of the elderly.

“I think it could be very useful for community organizations, the state or local government just to have an awareness of where they are and try to promote things that would improve this,” said Beauchamp.

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