Tri-State Counties fare poorly in national health rankings

A county-by-county look at health and health determinants indicates that in Ohio, Warren County is the healthiest county in the Greater Cincinnati region while Adams County is the least healthy. In Kentucky, Boone County ranks among the healthiest and Gallatin County among the least healthy. The fifth annual County Health Rankings was released today by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI). The Rankings are available at

The Health Rankings are divided into two main categories, Health Outcomes and Health Factors. Making up the rankings are 29 behavioral, environmental, and social economic factors that influence health. Examples of those factors include obesity, smoking, physical inactivity, access to healthy foods, access to primary care, high school graduation rates, and employment.

Hamilton County, which ranked 64th of 88 Ohio counties, fared far worse than the national benchmark for mortality, measured by death prior to the age of 75. Contributing to that rating are poor scores on measures that include adult smoking, excessive drinking, sexually transmitted diseases, teen birth rate, children in poverty, violent crime, and preventable hospital stays. Meanwhile, Hamilton County beat the national benchmark for diabetic and mammogram screenings, and ratio of primary care doctors to population.

Our region invests heavily in health and healthcare, having spent more than $13 billion in 2011. “What is missing is a coordinated, data-driven regional approach to improving health and the delivery of health care,” said Craig Brammer, CEO of the Health Collaborative, HealthBridge, and the Greater Cincinnati Health Council. “We believe that applying a Collective Impact strategy to our region’s health issues can move the needle on some of these factors.”

To that end, the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Interact for Health and the Hamilton County Health Department have asked the Health Collaborative to serve as the backbone organization for a new Collective Impact strategy on regional health. The effort has support from all of the hospital systems and three health plans which have agreed to provide seed funding for the effort. The Health Collaborative will soon be asking local businesses to join in supporting the initiative. Dee Ellingwood, who recently stepped down as Senior Vice President for Planning and Business Development at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, is a loaned executive to the Health Collaborative and will be leading the development of a community health agenda.

“Health is the foundational measure against which the Bold Goals for Our Region in education and income will be achieved,” said Rob Reifsnyder, president of United Way of Greater Cincinnati. “The importance of health cannot be overstated. Achieving and maintaining good health is important during all stages of life, from prenatal health through childhood to adulthood to later years in life.”

Jim Schwab, President and CEO of Interact for Health supports the Collective Impact approach because of its ability to bring the community together around strategies that address both access to quality health care and the social and environmental factors that impact health and quality of life. “The County Health Rankings show us how health is influenced by our everyday surroundings—where we live, learn, work, and play; and we believe that the Collective Impact approach will help us address those factors” said Schwab.

Collective Impact is a strategy for influencing large scale social change which involves convening leadership from difference sectors of the community to agree to a common agenda that reflects the best opportunities to leverage improvement. “Central to our ability to make good choices will be our ability to use data to point us to the areas where we can have the most impact,” said Ellingwood. “Just as businesses use data to identify opportunities, test strategies, and measure success, we can apply that discipline to our approach to improving health.”

“We believe this process can result in a healthier population, the highest quality health care delivery system, and lower overall cost to the community,” said Brammer. “When we achieve that, health and health care will become a differentiator that becomes a highly valued advantage for our region.”

According to the 2014 Rankings, the counties in the Cincinnati region are ranked below. A dynamic review of the rankings by factor and location is available on the County Health Rankings Website