Translating Data & Research to Policy & Practice: HealthLandscape Mapping Tools & Geospatial Analysis

This Saturday I’ll have the opportunity to present HealthLandscape mapping tools and research at the Academy Health Translation and Communications Interest Group Meeting.  The Translation and Communications Interest Group focuses on practical ways of translating and communicating research findings to diverse audiences, which can then be used to inform policy and practice. The importance of translating data and research findings in ways that are more easily understood has taken on greater importance in recent years with the open data movement providing access to large, sometimes complex datasets.

From the very beginning, HealthLandscape has been at the forefront of giving users access to data and providing tools to visualize these data for better understanding. HealthLandscape has a variety of publicly available tools that can be used to inform policy and practice.  The UDS Mapper is a mapping tool that allows users to identify areas with unserved low-income populations, which Health Center Program grantees and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) use to locate new health centers. The Population Health Mapper allows users to overlay social determinants and health outcomes data at the county-level to explore relationships and identify high-need areas. A final example is the Accountable Care Organization Explorer, which allows user to visualize quality, demographics, costs, and general characteristics of ACOs in the Medicare Shared Savings Program.

In addition to the mapping tools described above, HealthLandscape is pushing forward with research that utilizes geospatial methods to better understand major themes in health services research.  A major purpose of the Geospatial Research Brief series is to produce place-based research that includes maps and other visualizations that are easily understood by various audiences. The first three HealthLandscape Geospatial Research Briefs focus on appropriate Diabetes preventive care, with a major emphasis on identifying priority areas for policy interventions.  The first two briefs were released earlier this year, while the third brief will be available in the first week of July.

Michael Topmiller
GIS Strategist

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