Enhancing health policy decisions at the local level through applied geographic information systems (GIS)
Under direction of the Department of Health and Human Services, Lane County GIS has developed maps describing the health of Lane County communities, including the social, economic, and environmental conditions (built and natural) which promote and hinder health. Applied geographic information science and epidemiological methods are used to serve the following purposes:
- Describe the spatial patterns of health and factors which hinder and promote health at the community level and countywide;
- Monitor and evaluate changes in patterns over time;
- Identify potential inequities;
- Assess and model impacts of health policy;
- Target and prioritize limited resources to improve health outcomes and reduce inequities; and
- Guide decision making and policy development to assure healthy, thriving communities.
The GIS team has mapped readily available data on several health determinants and created a combined wellness score to compare communities throughout the county. By giving us a better understanding of the relationship between “place” and health at the local level, we can more effectively compare, target resources, and promote those conditions necessary to enhance health. These maps also give us a more effective tool to engage community partners and policy makers in making data-driven decisions that impact population health.
Learning Areas:Communication and informatics
Describe the creation of a composite wellness score using locally available data Identify three ways mapping local health determinants can be used by public health departments Explain how GIS mapping of a composite health score can improve the capacity of public health departments and their partners to make data-driven policy and program decisions
Keyword(s): Epidemiology, Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the epidemiologist for the local coordinated care organization. In that capacity I have applied epidemiology to inform actions on health reform in Lane County, Oregon. I have worked in the field of public health for 16 years and served as the lead investigator on the Lane County Health Mapping Project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.