How Public Health England is using interactive mapping software to present detailed public health data with the 2015 NHS Atlas of Variation

Public Health England and the NHS Atlas of Variation

Public Health England (PHE), established in April 2013, exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and delivery of specialist public health services.

InstantAtlas is widely used within PHE as it has a enterprise licence and was used for their Atlas of Variation in Healthcare, which has received widespread interest and coverage in the media.

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National Institute for Health and Welfare Finland

Background

The National Institute for Health and Welfare Finland (THL) is a research and development institute under the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health

The National Institute for Health and Welfare Finland (THL) is a research and development institute under the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. THL serves broader society, the scientific community and decision-makers in central government and municipalities. Its aim is to promote health and welfare inFinland. Within THL there is a Department of Health, Functional Capacity and Welfare. Its work focuses on the most important public health issues, their determinants and monitoring the health of the population and population subgroups.

The department conducts research and development work with a broad collaborative of partners to promote the health and functional capacity of Finnish people and to enhance health monitoring among population subgroups also at local area level.

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InstantAtlas Interview with the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS)

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) promotes and protects the health of Arizona’s children and adults. Its mission is to set the standard for personal and community health through direct care, science, public policy, and leadership.

The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) promotes and protects the health of Arizona’s children and adults. Its mission is to set the standard for personal and community health through direct care, science, public policy, and leadership.

The Department operates programs in behavioral health, disease prevention and control, health promotion, community public health, environmental health, maternal and child health, emergency preparedness and regulation of childcare and assisted living centers, nursing homes, hospitals, other health care providers and emergency services.

When it comes to collecting and disseminating information, population density plays a large part in how the Department is able to highlight significant trends in the program areas and fulfil its role in terms of community profiling. For instance, 60 per cent of the population lives in one county which means that other counties are sparsely populated – presenting a significant challenge for any organisation that wants to show detailed analysis at anything below county level.

This issue was of concern when it came to monitoring cancer rates. Until recently, the state-collected cancer data was not complete enough to look at rates on a relatively small geographic scale, limiting analysis to the county level only.

We spoke to Wesley Korteum, GIS Coordinator at Arizona Department of Health Services to find out more about how the Department now presents its data. He says that the graphical depiction of information about communities is an important element of their work and they have managed to overcome the challenge by creating their own Community Health Analysis Area (CHAA). There are 126 CHAAs in Arizona. Each is a geographic unit developed to present data (initially rates of cancer) at a geographic scale smaller than the county level.

A CHAA is built from US 2000 Census Block Groups. These Block Groups are relatively small geographic regions of the state. A typical CHAA contains approximately 21,500 residents. But, because of the scattered pattern of development in Arizona they range widely in population, from 5,000 to 190,000 persons.

Getting started

“We have a team that has lived here most of their lives and recognised appropriate ways to aggregate Block Groups to create CHAAs that align with political and social boundaries. Each CHAA is made of different Block Groups and we try to keep areas as demographically similar as possible,” says Wesley.

The first project was to present the cancer data. The team felt that by having this data presented in a visually meaningful way it would put an end to the ad hoc requests for custom analysis they were getting. They began the search for a dynamic data presentation tool with outputs that could be shared with non-GIS professionals such as researchers and the public. Having decided to use InstantAtlas cancer data was geo-coded and the dynamic reports created. Wesley believes that presenting the data in this way has made it more meaningful and it has changed the nature of the team’s work.

Learn how to present public health data on interactive maps with InstantAtlas

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Other Public Health Stories that may interest you.

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
‘Using data presentation tools to highlight results of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey’


The Institute for Health Policy, School of Public Health, University of Texas
‘Making data available to the community through easy-to-use data presentation tools’

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