Health Indicators iPad App: Using GIS and BI to Make Sense of Health Data

This article from Critigen’s Community Health Team Leader, Kenny Ratliff, highlights what GIS can do for health data in our communities and nationally.  Ratliff reviews how Critigen’s free app for the iPad allows users to understand how traditional BI (Business Intelligence) & GIS can come together to make big data and health data meaningful to professionals and ordinary people alike. 

February 05, 2013 -- With an increasing awareness of the cost of healthcare and the relative costs of prevention and treatment, health data are more important than ever to making wise investments in healthcare services and infrastructure.  Healthcare professionals, politicians and ordinary citizens all have an interest in understanding the state of our health and contributing to solutions.

Critigen, a  GIS consulting & solutions company, has launched a free iPad app to help executives, health professionals and ordinary citizens visualize and understand the Community Health Status Indicators ( CHSI).  The CHSI contain a variety of health trends and health predictors.  With the Health Indicators iPad app, anyone can view the indicators by region, state or county, comparing nearby areas and see trends by area.  The app also supports the classic ‘rollup’ functionality of business intelligence, grouping indicators by category and providing an overall assessment of the category for each region, allowing users to drill into each category to see specific metrics at various geographic levels.

This app changes the health data game, and the best way to really understand it is to download Health Indicators to your iPad (free) from the Apple App store and try it out. The intuitive touch interface makes it easy to navigate and get comfortable with the tool. The way they aggregated and organized the data around geography and metrics categories provide the information you’re interested in without overwhelming you.  The data are organized in categories to make them more accessible to ordinary people and to health care professionals:

  • Good Start – how well we care for infants
  • Staying Healthy – how well we follow medical advice
  • Managing Disease – how well we manage potential fatal conditions
  • Getting Help – how easy is it to get basic health care
  • Paying for Care – how affordable health care is

The app launched in time for Health Datapalooza 2012 and got main stage billing.  Tyler Huehmer, Director of Critigen Labs, told the audience, “Through informational design and the integration of GIS, we’re able to visually access data that was otherwise difficult to access or difficult to understand.  This exploratory tool allows someone to browse information geographically and focus on what’s important to them.”

Critigen launched the app as a corporate citizenship initiative, applying Critigen’s geospatial technology expertise to make health indicators data accessible to everyone.  Critigen also hopes it inspires the Health community to embrace the potential that geographic information – also referred to as location intelligence or geographic information systems (GIS) – has to improve the way we invest in healthcare, prevention and infrastructure.

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