Low Health IQ Linked with Increase of Chronic Conditions

Samara Rosenfeld
FEBRUARY 04, 2019
big data, telehealth

Last week, life insurance company Health IQ, released a report titled Health Literacy in the 50 States, that used Health IQ research and data to highlight the relationship between health literacy, chronic diseases and healthcare costs.

The report used data from more than 10 million Health IQ quizzes and found that the average health literacy score for any state is 143.4 out of 200. The quizzes cover concepts such as nutrition, exercise, metabolism, disease and digestion.

The five highest health intelligence quotient (IQ) states were Vermont, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Minnesota, while the five lowest were Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, West Virginia and South Carolina.

>> READ: Fitbit and NIH Launch Digital Health Tech Initiative for All of Us Program

There was a relationship between high health IQ and lower rates of diabetes, obesity, blood pressure and Medicare prescription costs.
 

Health IQ and Diabetes

Diabetes has the potential to cost more than $622 billion a year by 2030. The five states with the lowest health IQ had the highest rates of diabetes. While Alaska had a health IQ score of 142, which was below the median, it had the lowest diabetes rate at 7.4 percent. The 7.4 percent represents the number of adults who reported being diagnosed by a health professional. But a high percentage of adults in Alaska reported not seeing or speaking to a doctor in the last year, which could contribute to a lower rate of diagnosis.
 

Health IQ and Obesity

Another key finding of the report was the relationship between high health IQ and lower rates of obesity, which is estimated to cost more than $342 billion annually. Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and West Virginia were all in the top seven states by obesity. And while the sentiment that the states with the lowest health IQ’s had higher rates of obesity, Iowa had one of the highest obesity rates at 36.4 percent, with a health IQ of 146. Hawaii had the second lowest obesity rate and a low health IQ of 136, which might be due to a strong investment in health initiatives likes programs to decrease smoking rates, increase physical activity and promote healthy eating.
 

Health IQ and Blood Pressure

Four of the top five health IQ states were in the top five for lowest rates of high blood pressure. Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi were three states with the highest rates of blood pressure. Those states also had a higher rate of stroke and death from a stroke.
 

Health IQ and Medicare Prescription Costs

Tennessee had a health IQ score of 134 and Medicare prescription costs of $3,911. The state is highly affected by the opioid epidemic and health issues stemming from addiction might lead to higher costs.

With a health IQ of 153, North Dakota had the lowest costs with $1,412. Lower costs might be a result of smarter medication management and avoiding unnecessary prescription costs. Pharmacies in North Dakota are also locally owned, which can be a driver of lower costs.


How Tech Can Play a Role

The wearable technology industry has been upping its game lately. Whether it’s the electrocardiogram application or an atrial fibrillation detector on an Apple Watch, technology can provide solutions for users, regardless of their geographical location, and give people an option to be more aware of their health. These tools can be used to monitor heart health and could possibly prevent heart conditions or stroke.

Telehealth services are also an option for people to manage their health remotely. Chatbots and mobile health apps can use artificial intelligence to tailor workout programs and virtual doctor visits to best suit the consumer.

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