Hospital readiness for managing health emergencies has improved over the last five years, according to a new report. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) this week released the 2018 National Health Security Preparedness Index, which found that the U.S. scored a 7.1 out of 10 for preparedness, up 3% over the last year and almost 11% since the Index was begun in 2013.
The assessment found improvements in most states, but also noted serious inequities in health security across the country, according to a RWJF release. Maryland was the highest scoring state, 25% higher than the lowest-ranked states, Alaska and Nevada. The report found that states in the Deep South and Mountain West scored poorly compared to those in the Northeast and Pacific Coast.
“Five years of continuous gains in health security nationally is remarkable progress,” said Glen Mays, PhD, MPH, who led the University of Kentucky research team that developed the index, in the release. “But achieving equal protection across the U.S. population remains a critical unmet priority.”
The index found that 18 states had preparedness levels exceeding the national average, while 21 states fell below the average. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia increased their overall health security last year, with eight remaining steady and four declining.
Researchers collect, aggregate, and measure health security data from more than 50 sources. The final measures cover health security surveillance (2018 national average of 8.1., a 12.5% improvement since 2013), community planning and engagement (6.0, 22.4%), information and incident management (8.8, 7.3%), healthcare delivery (5.2, 2.0%), countermeasure management (7.7, 6.9%), and environmental and occupational health (6.6, 8.2%).
The Index was originally developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help improve health security and preparedness and is funded by RWJF. State health officials, emergency management experts, business leaders, nonprofit groups, researchers, and others help shape the Index.