Spatial management of health risk: Applying geospatial technology for risk visualisation, hotspot identification, and analysis of geographic variation

Flagship Program: Changing Health Trajectories in Chronic Disease

Project Description

Where people live and where they access health services play a key role in understanding patterns of healthcare utilisation as well as health itself. Both healthcare management organisations and funders of health services would benefit greatly from having geospatial technologies to assist them in the allocation of scarce resources and in planning processes. Yet, despite the large amount of research dedicated to geospatial analysis in health, stakeholders rarely have access to more than a report or a set of static maps, usually not up-to-date, at crude levels of scale with low resolution.

This project will develop a comprehensive, interactive, real-time Health Atlas that enables the better visualisation of spatially-based population data – and, importantly, improved risk stratification using built, physical and social environmental data together with patient-level information.

The Health Atlas will enable and support innovations in the spatial targeting and evaluation of personalised healthcare interventions, predicated on spatial knowledge of the environmental contexts of healthcare clients and their characteristics.

It will provide a set of social, built and physical environmental variables that can be attached to Medicaid (USA) claims data, and will also enable map flows of health consumers – relating where they live to where they access health services, and identifying important differences between potential and realised access to care.

The project will focus primarily on chronic diseases associated with lifestyle risk factors (eg., Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, overweight and obesity, and lifestyle-related cancers).

Using the Health Atlas, Medicaid agencies will be able to visualise data about their customers and also answer specific questions such as “Where is the largest gap between the demand and supply of mental health services for this subset of the population?” or “How much of the geographic variation in this service utilisation or health variable is explained by the variation in these other variables?”

Examples of these variables include the accessibility (distance) and availability (density) of primary care centres, clinics and hospitals, public open spaces and parks, healthful and unhealthful food outlets, and exercise facilities; as well as other factors like dwelling and population density, housing mix, land use, commercial density, public transportation, walkability and climatic conditions.

Project Objectives

  1. To develop for HMS a comprehensive Health Atlas for spatially-based decision support with visualisation and enabling improved risk stratification using built, physical and social environmental data together with individual client/patient information. The Atlas can be used by Medicaid agencies and health care management organisations to support better allocation, understand which people utilise which resources and where, and more generally to obtain insights originating from geospatial information that are currently simply not available to the above-mentioned intended stakeholders.   
  2. To provide a set of social, built and physical environmental variables that can be attached to Medicaid claims data.  

Industry Participant

HMS
Donna Price, Vice President

Other Project Participants


Research Participant

University of Canberra (Health Research Institute)
Mark Daniel, PhD, MSc, Professor of Epidemiology

Project Value:

$2,002,500