CHICAGO, Jan. 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Like most health data analytics organizations, Blue Health Intelligence® (BHI®) was laser-focused on COVID-19 last year. Still, a compendium of its research briefs from a busy 2020 serves as a reminder that COVID leads an array of clinical care challenges facing the U.S. healthcare system.
Using its National Data Repository, which reflects the care experiences of 217 million unique health plan members with over 22 billion claims, BHI examined childhood obesity, human papillomavirus virus (HPV) rates, men's health challenges, skin cancer rates, and the effect of the pandemic on preventive care and telehealth.
Men faced several health challenges in 2019, and, in many cases, had significantly higher rates of disease than women. Higher rates of alcohol abuse, opioid abuse, and nicotine dependence were observed in all age groups of men 19 and older.
Obesity increased in both adults and children from 2016-2019. Children ages 2-4 showed the highest annual increase (20.6%). "Childhood obesity puts children at increased risk of cardiac disease, diabetes, breathing difficulties, joint and musculoskeletal discomfort, and gastrointestinal issues," the report notes. "Being overweight can also result in social and psychological problems such as low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression."
Skin cancer and melanoma rates differ widely from state to state, and not always in the expected ways. Typically, warmer and sunnier states have higher rates of skin cancer, but in 2019, rates for Maine, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania were higher than the southern states of Texas and Louisiana. Of note, Hawaii and Alaska – two states at opposite ends of the weather spectrum – shared the lowest rate of melanoma.
HPV played a significant role in the higher rates of certain cancers in men, which are linked to men's higher use of nicotine and alcohol. On a positive note, BHI found the rate of HPV vaccination rose 7.8 percentage points for males from 2016 through 2019, compared with 5.9 percentage points for females.
Telehealth skyrocketed in the first nine months of 2020. BHI specifically noted a 50-fold increase in the utilization of virtual healthcare services by commercially insured individuals from March 2019 to March 2020 and a 100-fold increase from April 2019 to April 2020.
"BHI is honored to provide trend reporting to help the larger healthcare ecosystem identify where additional study and/or interventions might benefit individuals and organizations," said its CEO, Swati Abbott.
About Blue Health Intelligence
Blue Health Intelligence® (BHI®) delivers insights that empower healthcare organizations to improve care, reduce costs, and optimize performance. BHI's team of data analysts, clinicians, IT experts, and epidemiologists provide analytics, software-as-a-service, and in-depth consulting to payers, providers, employers, medical device companies, and other healthcare stakeholders. BHI is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and carries the trade name of Health Intelligence Company, LLC.