Health Rankings Show Challenges and Promises of Healthcare in SWGA
Thursday, April 6th, 2017
New county health rankings released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation highlight many of the challenges in healthcare in Southwest Georgia while also shining a spotlight on the outstanding care available to folks in our area thanks to Phoebe.
The rankings provide a snapshot of the health of people in regions throughout the country. Dougherty County’s overall rankings show great room for improvement. The county ranks 148th out of Georgia’s 159 counties in Health Outcomes and 128th in Health Factors.
The county’s lone bright spot is in Clinical Care where Dougherty ranks 19th. That strong ranking is due largely to the services provided by the Phoebe health system. According to the study, the average healthcare cost in Georgia – defined as the amount of price-adjusted Medicare reimbursements per Medicare enrollee – is $9,391. That’s nearly 10% more than the cost in Dougherty County of $8,581.
Thanks to Phoebe’s efforts to attract physicians and other advanced practice providers to our region, folks in Dougherty County have much greater access to healthcare than the average Georgian. The ratio of population to primary care physicians is 1,060:1 in the county compared to 1,530:1 statewide.
The ratio of population to other primary care providers in Dougherty County is among the best in the nation. The county has one non-physician primary care provider for every 767 residents. The study lists benchmark counties in the 90th percentile nationwide as having one provider for every 853 residents, while the overall numbers for Georgia are one for every 1,264.
Because of the strong access to primary care, Dougherty County’s mammography screening rate of 66% is better than the state average of 62%, and the diabetes monitoring rate of 88% tops the state rate of 85%. In addition to educating the community in an effort to prevent diabetes, Phoebe’s Diabetes Resource Center also reaches out to and works with patients who have diabetes to monitor and control their illness.
“Communities throughout Southwest Georgia tend to have poorer healthcare outcomes related to social determinants such as higher rates of poverty, unemployment and literacy rates,” said Phoebe Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steve Kitchen. “This disparity presents significant healthcare challenges for our region that result in higher rates of diabetes, cancer, obesity, preterm birth and many other chronic health problems. However, excellent healthcare provided by Phoebe is helping to improve the overall health of our communities through better access to care, preventive health screening and management of conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer.”