In the most recent ESRI Healthy GIS newsletter, there were a number of interesting applications of GIS in the health care sector. Two such interesting projects were based in teaching hospitals: The University of Kentucky Hospital, and Stanford University Medical Center. While used for different purposes, these application show the true power of GIS when they harness meaningful health care and demographic data.
The University of Kentucky employed a combination of AutoCAD drawings and ArcGIS server to build an application that tracks assets within its Level 1 Trauma Center. Users can edit room assets on the fly, as well as view images of the rooms and the assets contained. There could be many uses for such an application including:
- Generation of a near real-time census to track room utilization
- Tracking of potentially hazardous conditions within hospitals
- Assisting in monitoring bed changes and patient flow
Stanford University goes beyond some of the more common health care uses for GIS such as population and disease research, and emergency management. Stanford uses GIS to deal with the rising mobility of the nursing workforce. Retaining nurses is a key factor in improving patient outcomes. The application that Stanford Medical Center developed also helps to determine the optimal teams required to staff during emergency situations.
The entire San Francisco Bay Area external registered nurse population with hospital points buffered at two, four, and six miles up and down the San Francisco Peninsula, showing the ease with which nurses can establish their careers by leapfrogging from one hospital to another.
Stanford effectively combined ArcGIS with the Spatial Analyst extension to marry HR data with geographic and demographic data for planning purposes.
In the Business Intelligence world, we often go to our clients and ask them “what questions would you like to answer as a result of our efforts?” Stanford address a multitude of questions with their GIS applications.
A final usage of GIS that I had some first-hand knowledge of is Health Care GIS in the province of Nova Scotia. As a student at the College of Geographic Sciences, we were exposed to much of the work being conducted to look at demographic distribution and the availability of health care services. Some of the studies being conducted were:
- Breast Cancer mobile screening and the effectiveness of location choices
- Fixed location and analysis of health care utilization
- Demographic information combined with health care utilization
What areas of GIS and business intelligence are most intriguing?
What are some new innovative ways to use GIS in health care delivery?
These are just a few of the questions you think of when you read about how GIS is being applied for better management and improving outcomes.