The Healthcare Industry Embraces GIS and Community Data
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For years, geospatial boundaries have been vital in real estate, social media, and search/local search. But the use of GIS data is rapidly expanding to other sectors as well, including many branches of the healthcare industry.
It’s an exciting development: GIS and related spatial analysis provide a set of tools for strategizing treatment and prevention of disease, keeping healthcare costs down, and delivering services to the communities most in need.
GIS in Healthcare: A Wide Range of Applications
The usefulness of GIS in healthcare is remarkably broad. Public health departments, public health policy and research organizations, medical centers, hospitals, health insurance outfits — all of these healthcare organizations are finding innovative ways to leverage the insights provided by location data.
Through the application of GIS technology, researchers are:
- Tracking cancer outbreaks in California and finding evidence of increased prostate cancer levels in communities adjacent to crops heavily sprayed with pesticides;
- Analyzing the spread of infectious diseases like the flu and measles to better understand how to treat high-risk populations;
- Looking at whether certain population segments are receiving limited care because of where they live, such as when the Veterans Health Administration used mapping technology to improve service delivery to veterans nationwide
- Applying GIS to EHR data to explore the prevalence of childhood obesity in the area around Washington, DC.
Use Cases: Geospatial Data at Work
Here are a few examples of how various sectors of the healthcare field are harnessing the power of geospatial data.
Infectious Disease Detection and Prevention. Part of the reason to use geospatial data for tracking infectious disease is that environmental factors are known to play a role in health outcomes. By applying GIS technology to this issue, researchers can address disparities in outcomes for various populations.
For example, there may be a link between a neighborhood’s walkabality and incidence of depression in that location. Certain communities might also have higher levels of obesity, which could be related to availability of fresh foods. Mapping health outcomes would reveal these relationships and help researchers identify and protect sensitive populations.
Health Insurance. Health insurance companies are continually striving to better understand healthcare costs. By applying location data, they’re able to explore such questions as whether patients who live close to polluted areas — bus depots, chemical plants, airports — trend toward requiring increased healthcare premiums.
Hospital Marketing. Hospitals and other medical centers can use geospatial data to better understand the community they serve and anticipate needs in their service area. They can also identify patterns to better determine where to invest their marketing efforts, answering questions about where their patients are coming from, how far they travel to obtain services, and whether their home community is healthy.
Maponics Data Is Ideally Suited for Healthcare Applications
Maponics plays a critical role in building the geospatial boundaries and areas of interest that matter most for research and development within healthcare fields.
As attention turns to defining health communities and exploring environmental health factors at the level of neighborhoods, Maponics Communities Products, including Maponics™ Neighborhood Boundaries and Maponics™ Hospital Boundaries, provide relevant data that’s accurate and up-to-date.
Research efforts in the healthcare field are promising as we work to improve health while reducing healthcare costs. But for geospatial data to frame these explorations in a meaningful way, it must be reliable. Maponics has developed the industry’s largest inventory of precision boundaries, making it an indispensable partner for any healthcare organization using geospatial data.
To learn more about Maponics boundaries, visit our Product Overview Page.