Health Care Variation

RECENT POSTS

C-Section Rates Vary – Dramatically – Across the U.S.

Researchers list four recommendations to address the variation

By Alvin Tran, Kaiser Health News

(Photo: Kaiser Health News)

(Photo: Kaiser Health News)

C-sections are the most commonly performed operation in the U.S., and a new study shows that a woman’s likelihood of having one varies ten-fold (from 7 to 70 percent) across the country.

And for women with lower-risk pregnancies? The range for them is 15-fold (from 2.4 to 36.5 percent), according to the researchers.

“We were really surprised by how much variation we saw,” said Dr. Katy Kozhimannil, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health and the study’s lead author. Kozhimannil said she and her colleagues expected the rates of cesarean births among lower-risk mothers to vary less compared to the overall rates.

The study was published Monday in the journal Health Affairs. Continue reading

Where You Live Matters to Your Health — Again Backed Up by Data

By Emily Bazar, CHCF Center for Health Reporting

Sunset over Santa Cruz -- the area has the lowest rate of avoidable emergency room admissions in the nation. (Steve Marchi: Flickr)

Sunset over Santa Cruz -- the area has the lowest rate of avoidable emergency room admissions in the nation. (Steve Marchi: Flickr)

Medicare users in the Santa Cruz area boast the lowest rate of avoidable emergency room visits in the state. They also happen to have the lowest rate in the nation.

This statistical tidbit comes from the health-focused Commonwealth Fund’s “Scorecard on Local Health System Performance,” released earlier this year, which offers a treasure trove of data on numerous health measures, from rates of uninsured residents to infant mortality. The data can be compared across states and regions.

Interesting, right? But so what?

Health data geeks say the “so what” is momentous: such data can identify problems or successes in public health across regions, and the findings can be used to develop solutions and create healthier places to live.

Lower use of emergency rooms reduces not only health care spending but also complications.

On Wednesday, some of those geeks convened at the Capitol for a briefing hosted by the California Health Policy Forum on using data to improve population health. The Forum organizes presentations on pressing health issues. Continue reading