SHARE THIS:

Methodology




Click the General Indicator Icons to Learn More

 

Health-Care Indicators

Weights*
Indicator
Methodology
Year
100 large
281 small
Medicare enrollment
Percent enrolled of eligible population 65+, ‡
Data sources: Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid
Services
2012 0.053 0.076
Primary-care
physicians
Normalized by composite score from average per capita and per population 65+ calculations ‡
Data source: Department of Health and Human Services
2012 0.105 0.107
Nurse practitioners and
physicians' assistants
Normalized composite score from average per capita and per population 65+ calculations ‡
Data source: Census Bureau
2012 0.060 0.057
Nurses
Normalized by composite score from average per capita and per population 65+ calculations, ‡
Data sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Milken Institute
2012 0.081 0.033
Hospital beds
Normalized by composite score from average per capita and per population 65+ calculations ‡
Data source: Department of Health and Human Services
2012 0.072 0.100
Long-term hospitals
Normalized by composite score from average per capita and per population 65+ calculations ‡
Data source: Department of Health and Human Services
2012 0.028 0.027
Hospital with
geriatric services
Normalized by composite score from average per capita and per population 65+ calculations ‡
Data source: Department of Health and Human Services
2012 0.077 0.077
Hospitals with
rehabilitation services
Normalized by composite score from average per capita and per population 65+ calculations ‡
Data source: Department of Health and Human Services
2012 0.057 0.060
Hospitals with
Alzheimer's units
Normalized by composite score from average per capita and per population 65+ calculations ‡
Data source: Department of Health and Human Services
2012 0.042 0.033
Hospitals with
hospice services
Normalized by composite score from average per capita and per population 65+ calculations ‡
Data source: Department of Health and Human Services
2012 0.037 0.037
Orthopedic surgeons
Normalized by composite score from average per capita and per population 65+ calculations ‡
Data source: Department of Health and Human Services
2013 0.037 0.042
Dialysis centers
Normalized by composite score from average per capita and per population 65+ calculations,
NAICS code 621492, ‡
Data sources: Census Bureau, city websites
2014 0.054 -
Medical and
diagnostic centers
Normalized by composite score from average per capita and per population 65+ calculations,
NAICS code 6215 (Includes X-ray, MRI, and ultrasound imaging), ‡
Data source: Census Bureau
2014 0.035 0.046
Physical therapists
Normalized by composite score from average per capita and per population 65+ calculations, ‡
Data source: Department of Health and Human Services
2015 0.039 0.063
Expenses per
inpatient day
Average expenses per inpatient day divided by U.S. value (state-level data), †
Data source: Kaiser Family Foundation
2014 0.051 0.064
Joint Commission
accreditation
Percent of hospitals, ‡
Data source: Department of Health and Human Services
2012 0.041 0.043
Medical school
affiliation
Percent of hospitals, ‡
Data source: Department of Health and Human Services
2012 0.046 0.049
Magnet hospitals
Percent of hospitals, ‡
Data source: American Nurses Credentialing Center
2015 0.043 0.037
ER wait time***
Average time spent before being seen by a health-care professional, divided by U.S. value †
Data sources: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Milken Institute
2014 0.042 0.050
* Figures may not add up to 1 due to rounding. † The lowest value is ranked highest. ‡ The highest value is ranked highest.

In light of growing costs and a shifting legislative landscape, health care is an increasingly common concern among older adults. For optimal effectiveness, health care should be accessible, timely, affordable, and high quality. 3 This "Best Cities" report examines each metro for such characteristics.

We include a new indicator in 2017 to reflect numbers of nurse practitioners and physicians' assistants, recognizing that in regions without a sufficient primary-care workforce, these professionals increasingly shoulder the responsibility to provide basic services that are key in combatting the growing burden of chronic illness.

We also look at access to aging-related health services, including availability of hospitals, rehabilitation services, hospice, and Alzheimer's units. We moved the Medicare enrollment indicator to this category from the wellness category as it also examines access to care.

Availability of providers and medical centers is only part of the equation. Care also must be high-quality and cost-effective to produce positive health outcomes. The "Best Cities" index looks at quality by recording hospital Joint Commission accreditation and magnet designation, two national recognitions for excellence. We also examine emergency-room wait times and expenditures per inpatient stay to ensure inefficiencies or expenses do not compromise access.

3 Radley, D. C. and Schoen, C., "Geographic variation in access to care - the relationship with quality," New England Journal of Medicine 367(1) (2012): 3-6.

Go to Wellness Indicators