America's Health Rankings® was selected as one of the Health Index benchmarks because of the emphasis on the social determinants of health, such as income and education. For 27 years, AHR has evaluated a historical and comprehensive set of health, environmental and socioeconomic data to determine national health benchmarks and state rankings.
For more detailed information, visit the America’s Health Rankings website.
MaineHealth’s Health Index builds upon two nationally recognized frameworks for assessing health status. The first is America’s Health Rankings®, an annual report produced by the United Health Foundation that benchmarks every state in the U.S. It is considered by many to be the “gold standard” of state health status rankings because of its longevity and highly regarded scientific approach. Both health determinants and health outcomes are measured through America’s Health Rankings® The County Health Rankings© project is the other widely recognized national resource that informs the Health Index. This web-based tool, compiled by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, uses two sets of measures to compare and rank counties within each of the 50 states. The measures are similar to those used in America’s Health Rankings®, but they have more relevance to local decision makers. Like America’s Health Rankings, the County Health Rankings incorporate both health factors (i.e. determinants) and health outcomes into a county’s overall rank. The rankings look at a variety of measures that affect health such as the rate of people dying before age 75, high school graduation rates, unemployment, limited access to health foods, air and water quality, income, and rates of smoking, obesity, and teen births.
The Health Index team chose to use America’s Health Rankings® and County Health Rankings© as benchmarks because both models emphasize the importance of social determinants of health, or the environments in which people are born, grow up, live, work, play and age. From this perspective, health status is not determined just by our behaviors or our individual predisposition to disease – it also depends on the environment and the community in which we live, the clinical care we receive, and the policies and practices of our health care and prevention systems. A person’s environment is an integrated part of the multi-sector approach that is needed to improve any aspect of health.
America’s Health Rankings®
America’s Health Rankings uses 24 total measures to develop one comprehensive view of a state’s overall health. Those measures are separated into two types – determinants (e.g. personal health behaviors, community and environment we live in, etc.) represent those actions that can affect the future health of the population, whereas outcomes represent what has already occurred, either through death, disease or missed days due to illness. The unique methodology used by America’s Health Rankings was originally developed, and is now periodically reviewed, by a group of public health experts. The rankings incorporate a variety of factors, such as smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, high school graduation rates, children in poverty, access to care, and incidence of preventable disease, into a state’s overall rank. The data is retrieved from U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Commerce, Education, Justice, and Labor; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Census Bureau; the American Medical Association; the Dartmouth Atlas Project; and the Trust for America’s Health. For more detailed information, visit the America’s Health Rankings website.
County Health Rankings©
The County Health Rankings also serve as a call to action for employers, health care providers, government, schools, and others to work together. The Rankings are a part of the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps Program. Many communities are taking information from the County Health Rankings and using the Roadmaps to build connections with local and national partners to improve health. The Rankings have been used to garner support for local health improvement initiatives among government agencies, healthcare providers, community organizations, business leaders, policymakers, and the public. For more detailed information on your county, go to the County Health Rankings website.