Thursday, June 23, 2016

Utahns May Now Compare Doctor Offices for Treatment of Diabetes and Bronchitis: All Payer Claims Database set to change health care in Utah

(Salt Lake City, UT) – For the first time, officials at the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) have been able to compare outcomes for two quality measures and primary care clinics by name using the All Payer Claims Database or APCD. The results show high compliance overall among primary care clinics with the use of the Hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test to help patients manage their diabetes. However, avoiding the use of antibiotics when treating adults for acute bronchitis, when this treatment was not called for, was low. Both results were consistent with national data.   

“What makes this analysis notable is that for the first time, people will be able to look up their doctor's office and see how they stack up against other doctor's offices for these two measures. The measures showed significant variation in the state, with some clinics doing very well on one or both measures while others have ample room for improvement,” said Norman Thurston, Director of the UDOH Office of Health Care Statistics. “We hope Utahns will use it to make better informed health care decisions.”

Data from the APCD showed (note: higher rates are better for both measures):
  • HbA1c testing rates are high across all clinics. No clinic with 10 or more patients had a compliance rate less than 70%.
  • 68 clinics had an HbA1c testing rate of 100%, with an average of 5.3 patients per clinic.
  • Avoidance of antibiotic treatment for adults with acute bronchitis (AAB) rates were generally low. The average AAB compliance rate for clinics with 10 or more patients was 37.9% but some clinics had compliance rates as low as 5.9%.
  • 21 clinics had AAB compliance rates of 100% with an average of 3.7 patients per clinic.
These measures were selected after extensive input from stakeholders. HbA1c testing was selected because it shows how well a patient’s diabetes is being controlled. The higher its use among primary care clinics, the better. Avoidance of antibiotic treatment for adults with acute bronchitis is important because bronchitis is almost always caused by a virus and antibiotics are not effective for treating it. Both standards of care for these measures are well known, but it is generally believed that there is room for improvement. The analysis included 232 clinics large enough to be reported by name and 139 clinics that were reported by geography only, due to their small size.

The Utah APCD is the fifth operating APCD in the nation and consists of medical and pharmacy claims, as well as information about member eligibility and providers for all private health insurance payers covering Utah residents. As of 2014, the APCD receives information on more than 80 million health care services provided annually to Utahns.

“The real power of the APCD comes from the ability to analyze care provided to patients across payers, providers, and time. The APCD has the granularity to compare costs and quality by geography, patient groups, providers, payers, and virtually any other classification that can be defined,” said Thurston. “It is an essential tool to improve quality, reduce costs, and promote cost transparency.”

The Utah State Legislature gave the UDOH statutory authority to collect and analyze all health care claims paid on behalf of Utahns into the APCD in 2008, with a goal to fill critical information gaps needed to make effective health policy decisions and empower health care purchasers with knowledge about cost and quality. This report is also required by state law.

To download a copy of the complete data analysis visit Information on the Utah APCD can be found at

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Media Contact:
Norman Thurston
Office of Health Care Statistics
(o) 801-538-7052 (m) 801-386-3541

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Walk Your Way to Better Health: Free classes help relieve arthritis pain

(Salt Lake City) – Data from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) show that roughly 47 percent of Utah adults with arthritis limit their activities because of high levels of pain in their joints. With one in five Utah adults suffering from some type of arthritis, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) is encouraging the public to enroll in free wellness classes near them to better manage their arthritis pain and other chronic health conditions that limit their activities.

“Health care providers no longer tell people with arthritis to rest their joints as a way to manage their arthritis pain,” said Nichole Shepard, manager of the UDOH Arthritis Program. “Current research shows that physical activity relieves pain, fatigue, and stiffness from arthritis. Walking for just 30 minutes a day, five times a week, can make a huge difference in how your joints feel.”

Nearly 60 percent of Utahns with arthritis said their health care provider told them to exercise to relieve their pain, yet only 3 percent reported attending a self-management class to learn how to deal with their arthritis.

Veteran James Dracoulis recently completed a six week walking program called Walk With Ease at the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System. “This program finally helped me break the motivational barrier I had with exercising and walking. The more I walk, the less pain I feel. It has increased my endurance and helped me to overcome my pain physically as well as mentally,” said Dracoulis. The program is offered as a self-guided or group course and has been shown to reduce the pain and discomfort of arthritis while increasing balance, strength, and overall health among arthritis sufferers. “Walk With Ease really means to walk with ease!”

Walk With Ease is just one of many evidence-based classes offered across the state to help relieve arthritis pain and teach participants how to manage their chronic health conditions. Classes are taught at local health departments, senior centers, clinics, hospitals, senior housing facilities, public libraries, and other community centers. Participants learn self-management techniques and skills needed in the day-to-day management of their ongoing health conditions. Research shows that the classes are also effective for caregivers.

“Exercise really is the best arthritis pain reliever,” said Shepard. “Start slow with a morning or evening walk around your neighborhood with friends, a spouse, or even your dog. Suggest walking meetings with co-workers or walk around inside your office building when the weather is bad. Reaping the benefits of regular physical activity doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.” 

To find a wellness class near you, visit or call the Utah Health Resource Line at 1-888-222-2542. The Arthritis Foundation also has information on arthritis education and physical activity classes, like Walk With Ease, on their website at or by calling 801-713-5722.

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Media Contact:
Rebecca Castleton

Friday, May 27, 2016

How to have a safe and fun Memorial Day with five easy tips


Memorial Day. The official start of summer!

Whether your planning a BBQ or hittin' the road for the weekend, our five easy tips are sure to make this Memorial Day weekend a safe and fun one.

Buckle up. Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the "100 Deadliest Days of Summer" as more and more of us are on the road. In fact, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety, the motor vehicle crash death rate nearly DOUBLES on Utah roads this weekend compared to the rest of the year. The best way to protect yourself and those in our car is to wear a seat belt. Every. Single. Rid. And for kids, make sure they're in a car seat or booster seat, according to their height and weight. Learn more about staying safe on the road at

Be water aware. Drowning can happen in seconds and is often silent. Unfortunately, it's all too common for a young child to wander off during a family gathering and fall into an open body of water, like a pond, stream, or pool. Designate a "child watcher" anytime you're around water. Put away distractions like phones and actively watch kids when water is nearby. And everyone should wear a life jacket when boating. Learn more about water safety at

 Beware the food "danger zone." Don't put cooked food on the same plates or surfaces that held raw meat or chicken. Cook burgers, steaks, chicken, fish, pork, and other meats to the proper temperatures. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Never leave food between 40-140 degrees for more than two hours; one hour if the temperature outside is above 90 degrees. Learn more about the food "danger zone" at

 Remember your DEET. Mosquitoes can transmit diseases like West Nile Virus and Zika virus. And different mosquitoes bite at different times of the day. The mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus are found in Utah. They are most active from dusk to dawn. The best way to avoid mosquito bites is to use insect repellent that contains DEET when you go outdoors. You can also wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks to avoid bites. Mosquito proof your home by removing standing water. Learn more about preventing West Nile Virus at

 Wear sunscreen. No one wants a fun weekend ruined by a painful sunburn! Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with at least SPF15 before you go outside, even on cloudy or cool days. Re-apply at least every two hours or immediately after swimming, sweating, or toweling off. Seek shade during peak sun hours, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. And cover up with broad-rimmed hats and UV-blocking sunglasses. Learn more about sun safety at

(Original infographic below)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Utahns with Asthma Have Higher Rates of Depression

(Salt Lake City, UT) – A new report released by the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) shows Utahns who reported missing school or work due to asthma had higher rates of depression compared to the general population. In 2014, 36% of Utahns with asthma reported that a health care provider had diagnosed them with a depressive order compared to 19.3% without asthma. And with more than 235,000 Utahns who currently have asthma, the UDOH Asthma Program is recommending health care providers regularly screen asthma patients for depression.

For adults with asthma, missing at least one day of work or usual activities was associated with an increased risk of depression, regardless of factors such as sex, age, income, time since last asthma symptom, or difficulty sleeping due to asthma. Adolescents who had an asthma attack in the past year were 40% more likely to report being depressed or sad most days when compared to those who did not have an asthma attack. Among adolescents who missed 1-3 days of school in the past year due to asthma, this percentage increased to 49%. Missing school may explain why having an asthma attack is associated with a higher risk of depression.

“Our study shows that the ramifications of poorly controlled asthma impact individuals beyond just the physical health effects of an asthma attack. Having to miss important events in one’s life, like school or work, because of asthma symptoms can directly impact one’s mental health too,” said Holly Uphold, UDOH epidemiologist and lead author of the study.

Additional findings of the study included:
  • Adolescents who had an asthma attack in the past year had a higher rate of being depressed or sad most days during the past year (44.2%) when compared to those who had not had an attack in the past year (35.4%).
  • Adolescents who missed 1-3 days of school in the past year due to asthma (51.6%) had a higher rate of being depressed or sad most days in the past year than those who missed zero days of school (40.0%).
  • Adults with asthma who had symptoms in the past 1-7 days (41.2%) or who had symptoms in the past 8 or more days (42.8%) had a higher prevalence of depression than the general population who reported ever being told by a health care professional he/she was depressed (21.8%).
  • Those who could not afford their asthma medication (56.1%) had a higher rate of being depressed than those who could afford their asthma medication (34.8%).
  • Adults who limited their usual activities a moderate amount or a lot due to asthma in the past year (52.5%) had a higher rate of being depressed than those who reported no limitations or only a few (33.4%).
  • Adults who missed at least one day of work or usual activities due to asthma within the past 12 months (50.0%) had a higher rate of being depressed than those who missed no days (33.5%).
Data from the 2013 Prevention Needs Assessment was used to examine the relationship between asthma and depression among Utah adolescents in grades 6, 8, 10, and 12. Data on asthma and depression among adults was analyzed using the 2008-2012 Utah Asthma Callback Survey.

“Health care professionals should take into consideration how asthma symptoms may impact their patient’s quality of life and mental health,” said Nichole Shepard, UDOH Asthma Program Manager. “We recommend health care providers regularly screen their patients for depression using PHQ-9 or another validated depression tool.”

The UDOH also recommends that health care providers ensure patients with asthma have a treatment plan in place for both asthma and depression. Asthma patients should also be monitored regularly for both conditions in order to determine the most effective treatments.

To learn more about the connection between asthma and mental health, download a copy of the Asthma Mental Health Report at  

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Media Contacts:
Brittany Guerra
(o) 801-538-6894 (m) 678-773-3983
Holly Uphold
(o) 801-538-9272

Monday, May 16, 2016

Rule the Rocks 9 to Tour Southern and Eastern Utah: A youth skateboard and BMX competition in theme to educate local youth on the dangers of tobacco

(Salt Lake City) – The Utah Department of Health Tobacco Prevention and Control Program’s (TPCP) way to quit campaign invites youth ages 18 and under to compete in four skateboarding/BMX competitions as part of the annual Rule the Rocks competition. In its ninth year, the competition is exclusive to rural Utah and will take place in Vernal on May 18, Price on May 19, Moab on May 20, and Cedar City on May 21.

Youth are invited to enter one of three categories at each event: beginner, intermediate, or advanced for either skateboarding or BMX. All entrants will receive an event t-shirt, and top participants from each category will win cash and gear.

“The tobacco industry is constantly looking for new customers. Youth, especially those in rural communities and with alternative interests, are on Big Tobacco’s radar,” said Brittany Karzen, marketing manager for TPCP. “That’s why we host anti-tobacco events like Rule the Rocks, to create a one-on-one dialogue with youth and remind them that the best way to quit tobacco, is to never start.”

The Rule the Rocks 9 event schedule will be as follows:

Vernal, Utah

Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Ashley Valley Park, Skate Park
250 North between 1000 West and 1150 West - behind the baseball fields
Registration: 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. 
Competition: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Price, Utah

Thursday, May 19, 2016
Terrace Hills Skate Park
1050 East 700 North
Registration: 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. 
Competition: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Moab, Utah

Friday, May 20, 2016
The Skate Park in Swanny City Park
400 North 100 West
Registration: 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. 
Competition: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Cedar City, Utah

Saturday, May 21, 2016
Exit 59 Skateboard Park
660 West 945 North (Bicentennial Park)
Registration: 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Competition: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Ninety percent of adult smokers begin lighting up before age 19 and one in three will eventually die of their addiction. Quitting is different for everyone. Smokers are encouraged to find their way to quit by visiting or calling the Utah Tobacco Quit Line at 1.800.QUIT.NOW.

way to quit Rule the Rocks 9 is sponsored in part by Arkade Magazine and 5050 BMX.

Video, interview, video and photo opportunities available.

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Media Contact:
Brittany Karzen
801-538-6917 (desk)
714-267-3679 (mobile)