NOTE: The following is an excerpt from TeleVox’s Healthy World report, “A Fragile Nation in Poor Health”, which reveals the majority of Americans fail to follow their doctors’ advice, and uncovers a significant gap in our nation’s healthcare system – lack of patient care between doctor visits. Download it HERE!
Northeasterners are healthy and they know it. A Fragile Nation in Poor Health revealed that 57% of Americans living in the northeastern states consider themselves to be healthy or very healthy, with another 24% striving to become healthy. A mere 16% say becoming healthy is a struggle.
People on the Move
Northeasterners tend to have some of the healthiest habits in the nation. Research shows they smoke less, exercise more, and weigh less than people living in other parts of the country. In fact, New England sets a benchmark for the country with all six of the New England states among the nation’s 10 healthiest. And, in 2010, Vermont was ranked the healthiest state in America.
Perhaps it’s because people living in the Northeast spend more time outdoors. Planning and participating in physical leisure activities — whether it’s hiking, walking or cycling — are simply more commonplace in the Northeast. Additionally, public transit systems are the norm in this part of the country, which means people spend more time walking (rather than driving) as part of their daily lives.
Challenges in the Northeast
It’s not all sunshine and roses, however. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer strikes more people living in the Northeast region of the United States than it does people living in any other part of the country. The most prevalent cancers for this area are breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer.
Unfortunately, cancer doesn’t typically display obvious symptoms until the disease has advanced to a pretty serious stage. So, Northeasterners tend to have a “feel good” mentality that delays doctor visits.
And, even when they do go to the doctor, 8 out of 10 (80%) Americans residing in the Northeast admit they don’t follow treatment plans they’ve been given by their doctor exactly as prescribed, A Fragile Nation in Poor Health revealed. Perhaps they disregard advice from their doctors because they feel so healthy.
By following their doctor’s advice, however, people will stay healthy longer while preventing and better managing serious diseases – such as cancer. Unfortunately, many people think they are already fit and healthy, so why spend time trying to fix something that isn’t broken? This trend demonstrates the challenges healthcare professionals face in helping people who feel healthy appreciate their unique risk for a particular disease that may be simmering beneath the surface.
A little support from healthcare professionals between doctor visits goes a long way toward solving this problem. A Fragile Nation in Poor Health also found that more than two in five (43%) Northeasterners, who feel they could better follow their prescribed plans, would be likely to do so if they received encouragement from their doctors between visits to stay on course. And, more than one-third (35%) said they would follow instructions better if they received reminders from their doctors via email, voicemail or text telling them to do something specific, like take medication, schedule a routine medical screening, or get a flu shot.
People need doctors who are willing to build relationships with their patients by engaging them between visits with information, reminders and feedback. When it comes to partnering for better health, though, too many doctors put the burden on the patient to be proactive, ask questions, and build the relationship. The good news for Northeasterners is they can be choosy. Northeastern states have the most doctors per capita, giving residents a vast number of doctors to select from. With this in mind, Northeasterners need to actively seek doctors who are known for collaborating with patients between visits, and who participate in the day-to-day health of their patients.