| November 4, 2018

Report: Chicago Ranked as the 54th Best City in the Country for Healthcare

Andreea Ciulac

Andreea Ciulac is former Chicago Tribune writer with almost a decade of reporting experience. She has a knack for deciphering... Andreea Ciulac is former Chicago Tribune writer with almost a decade of reporting experience. She has a knack for deciphering complex medical reports and statistics and conveying them into engaging stories that will help executives in healthcare keep up with the digital transformations in their industry. She covers an array of topics from pharma to startups and the Illinois healthcare system.

A new report shows that while Chicago is getting healthcare right, there’s also a lot of room for improvement.

The 2019 National Health Index recently released by Healthgrades ranked Chicago as the 54th best city in the country for healthcare.

The Index ranked 100 cities based on four categories: access to care, population health, hospital quality and local specialists. Rochester, MN, Burlington, VT, Charleston, SC, Cincinnati, OH, and Baltimore, MD topped this year’s list.

Healthgrades, which helps patients book appointments with physicians from 500 hospitals across the country, compiled data from an array of sources including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Our data scientists used sophisticated algorithms to discover meaningful patterns in this data and to identify the key factors that informed the final ranking,” said the report’s authors.

Chicago hospitals are falling behind

Chicago is the only city in Illinois to make it the list. However, its ratings for each category are mediocre. Access to care seems to be the most problematic area; Chicago ranked 66th. As explained in the report, the standard for access to care is determined by how many residents have healthcare coverage, how many see a personal physician, and whether cost affects their ability to see a doctor.

The city ranked 28th among large cities — those with populations of at least 1 million people. It also placed 48th for local specialists and 54th for hospital quality.

The new analysis coincides with Healthgrades release of the 2019 Report to the Nation, a study of nearly 4,500 acute care hospitals and their variation in clinical quality and outcomes.

This report might provide an explanation why Chicago hospitals falling behind.

While metropolitan areas like Chicago have more hospitals, they don’t necessarily provide the high-quality healthcare, the authors said. Rush University Medical Center was the only Chicago hospital to score five stars from Medicare in 2017. What’s more, three of Chicago most renowned hospitals – University of Illinois Hospital, Cook County’s Stroger Hospital, and Mount Sinai Hospital – received one star.

Healthgrades found out that a hospital’s rating could make the difference between life and death for its patients. People treated at five-star hospitals have lower risk of dying or experiencing complications during hospitalization than if they were treated at a one-star facility, the study showed.

How other cities stack up

Rochester, MN, on the other hand, earned the highest ranking in both hospital quality and local specialists. This doesn’t come as a surprise given the fact that the city is home to Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care and research. Researchers called Rochester a “small town with a big presence for quality health care.” Nearly half of its hospitals have 5-star ratings for multiple procedures and conditions.

On the other hand, the residents of San Francisco, CA, were the healthiest of all cities on the list and Worcester, MA ranked highest in access to healthcare.

The 2018 National Health Index looked completely different.

Minneapolis, Denver, Sacramento, Cincinnati, and Portland were top of the list.

Denver, CO., had the healthiest residents of all cities. Los Angeles was found to have the lowest rates of depression, while Salt Lake City’s population reported the lowest rates of smoking.

Healthgrades’ index is the third major health analysis with unflattering results for Illinois in the last couple of months. The state was criticized for its less than stellar palliative care and pain policies in a report by The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). And a recent study of statewide trends in maternal deaths found out that black women who just gave birth in Illinois are six times more likely to die from pregnancy-related issues within a year compared to non-Hispanic white women.

On a positive note, Illinois was praised for having the best mental health and addiction parity laws in the country.

 


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