Geographic technology advances health services
Predicting how disease spreads through public areas has been a goal of the health services for many years, and now they may have the technology to do it.
At a recent ASU lecture, Wesley Kortuem, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) coordinator for the Arizona Department of Health Services, highlighted the benefits of GIS in the health services.
“When GIS started in 1995, the main goal was to geocode data so we could create rate maps," Kortuem said. "This is still a huge part of what we do today, but we also do many other things.”
Rate maps are interactive maps which provide health service professionals with information that can be used to plot areas that are at high risk for health hazards and the facilities in those areas capable of providing aid. Hospitals use this information in strategic planning to develop services for their unique communities.
One of the most useful functions of GIS is the ability to render information in a virtual 3-D space.
“We want to begin mapping the spread of disease within buildings like schools and hospitals," Kortuem said. "However, even this is just the beginning. In this age of Google maps and iPhones, almost any spatial problem is solvable with GIS and emerging technologies.”
Kortuem’s lecture was part of this semester’s biomedical informatics seminar series at ASU's Downtown Phoenix campus which invites leaders in the health field to address current issues and topics, and answer questions for the public. Kortuem, who graduated from ASU geographic studies in 2002, began working for the Arizona Department of Health Services as a coordinator for GIS projects that same year. The Arizona Department of Health Services began to realize the benefit GIS could have when applied to health services in 1995 and shortly after formed the GIS subcommittee.
“There was enough interest in GIS at the time that a group was formed for all Arizona Department of Health Services personnel interested in GIS called the GIS Subcommittee,” Kortuem said.
To watch this ASU biomedical informatics seminar series lecture, visit BMI Seminar Series Archive.