GIS in healthcare

The healthcare industry embraces GIS and community data

Thu Sep 14 23:10:00 EDT 2017

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 provides healthcare with 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 and health insurance outfits are all finding innovative ways to leverage the insights provided by location data.

Through the application of GIS technology, researchers are:

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 walkability 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 determine with greater precision where to invest their marketing efforts, answer questions about where their patients are coming from, how far they travel to obtain services and whether their home community is healthy.

Pitney Bowes Data is ideal for healthcare applications.

Pitney Bowes 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, Pitney Bowes World Boundaries, including Neighborhood Boundaries and Hospital Boundaries, provide relevant data that’s more accurate and up-to-date.

Research efforts in the healthcare field are promising, as we work to improve health while reducing healthcare costs. However, for geospatial data to frame these explorations in a meaningful way, it must be reliable. Pitney Bowes has developed one of the industry’s largest inventory of precision boundaries, making it an indispensable partner for any healthcare organization using geospatial data.

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