When Do I Use QuickThemes? When Do I Use QuickGeocodes?


Have you ever tried plugging your own data into HealthLandscape and not gotten the results you expected? This happened to one of our users recently. After a quick phone call, we realized we needed to offer some clarification on using QuickThemes and QuickGeocodes.

QuickThemes and QuickGeocodes are two of HealthLandscape’s most powerful and popular tools. Both tools:

  • Enable you to upload your own data and create your own maps.
  • Require no GIS expertise to use them.
  • Are free for small data sets. Simply log in to www.HealthLandscape.org to get started and select either QuickThemes or QuickGeocodes from the Tools menu.

There is one major difference between the two tools:

  • QuickThemes requires aggregate data.
  • QuickGeocodes requires address (a.k.a. point-level) data.

This is important, because if you upload the wrong kind of data into the tool, the tool will not work.

Aggregate data “rolls up” individual pieces of data into one collection–a summary, if you will. You see information that applies to a geographical area (sometimes called a geography) rather than to individuals within the geography. It’s impossible to garner person- or site-specific information from aggregate data.

Address data (a.k.a. point-level data) is very specific. In GIS terms, it can be displayed as a single point on a map. The point could represent the address of a school, the address of a farmer’s market, or even the address of a specific person. Because of that specific address, anyone who views the map can figure out a lot about that person or site. You have to be careful about how you use point-level data. You don’t want to inadvertently invade someone’s privacy or misuse their data.

Here’s a scenario that might further clarify the difference. Perhaps you work for a community health agency that provides on-site clinic care, but also offers in-home support to selected patients. You have a spreadsheet that contains the addresses for every patient you have served over the past year. When would it make sense to use QuickThemes, and when would it be better to use QuickGeocodes?

You might use QuickThemes when you want to see which Zip codes or counties most of your clients come from, or if you’re trying to figure out where to locate a new clinic site. Take the spreadsheet, total the number of patients from each county, and map those totals against the corresponding county. You could also tally other demographic information, such as race, insurance status, employment status, or other data variables you collect.

The map might look something like this:

QuickThemes maps aggregate data
Map created using HealthLandscape’s QuickThemes tool.
QuickThemes creates maps of aggregate data.

You might use QuickGeocodes when you are trying to understand where patients with asthma or diabetes are located. You could display those addresses on a map, and send a diabetes educator to visit homes of patients’ whose glucose levels exceed a certain threshold.
The map might look something like this:

QuickGeocodes maps point-level data
Map created using HealthLandscape’s QuickGeocodes tool.
QuickGeocodes creates maps of point-level data.

Twice a month, we offer free “Introduction to HealthLandscape” webinars to help you use HealthLandscape effectively in your context. All of our webinars are live, so they are perfect opportunities to get clarification and ask questions.

Register today!

Introduction to HealthLandscape
In-depth instruction on using HealthLandscape, our free online mapping tool and data library
Tuesday, October 29, 2:00 pm ET
The Community Data Portal
In-depth demonstration of our award-winning data dissemination tool
Thursday, November 7, 2:00 pm EST
Visualizing Data with HealthLandscape
Overview of all of our data visualization tools, including the Site Performance Explorer
Wednesday, November 20, 2:00 pm ET

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