Every day the U.S. coronavirus outbreak is ushering new records. On. Nov. 10 the country reached a record of more than 100,000 infections in a single day for seven days in a row. There is a record number of hospitalizations — more than 67,000 COVID-19 patients across the country are hospitalized. In comparison, during the surges in the spring and summer, there were about 60,000 infected people staying in hospitals. Many states’ health care systems are at a breaking point.
There are more than 6,100 hospitals in the United States, and not all of them provide the same quality of care. While it is difficult to precisely determine the quality of a health care system, there are certain measures that can be indicative of overall quality of care.
24/7 Tempo created an index of three such measures — hospital readmission rate, hospital mortality rate, and the rate of preventable hospitalizations — reviewed at the metro area level to identify the cities with the worst health care system outcomes.
The quality of hospital care and appropriate follow-up after discharge can influence the measures that make up the index, but factors such as the type of patients that need medical treatment appear to play a role as well.
Socioeconomic characteristics of residents of a metro area appear to have an impact on the measures used to rate health care system performance, including those related to personal health. For example, unhealthy patient behaviors such as smoking, sedentary lifestyles, and poor diets can contribute to higher readmission rates and negative health outcomes. In fact, many of the cities on this list have relatively unhealthy populations and high premature mortality rates — these are the least healthy cities in every state.
Additionally, the majority of metro areas on this list, have far lower household incomes than the typical American household. Economically disadvantaged areas may have less effective health care systems because of fewer resources and an insufficient number of doctors in an area — these are the states with the fewest and most doctors per person.