HealthLandscape is a product of the American Academy of Family Physicians’ (AAFP) Robert Graham Center. This online instrument is an interactive web atlas that uses geographic information systems (GIS) to understand health and communities. It allows users to create and display maps and tables relevant to health and primary care by using publicly available data sets, such as regional criminal justice, education, healthcare, and demographic data. Family medicine residency programs can use the many applications to create maps and tables from a wide array of primary care and health related data. Users can combine, analyze, and display information spatially to promote understanding and improvement of health and health care.
There are several useful components of HealthLandscape. Check out a few of them below:
HealthLandscape can help you gain a clear picture of your community. The Community Research element is an excellent starting point when considering population health. Detailed community profiles can be created to help you understand the demographic and social characteristics of your community. This can be constructed based on geographic boundaries, service areas, or populations. HealthLandscape can assist with Community Health Needs Assessments, general community profiles, and program evaluations using reputable data sources.
Population Health Mapper allows users to select metrics from several categories: mortality, morbidity, health care (access and quality), health behaviors, demographics, social environment and physical environment. Operators use a slider bar to set thresholds. By default, thresholds are set at values that represent national benchmarks. The tool will highlight those counties that are outside of the national benchmark, or will incrementally shade or remove counties depending on how the user modifies the thresholds for selected indicators.
The Uniform Data System (UDS) Mapper was developed to visualize service area information for the Health Center Program grantees. However, it is open to everyone, not just those receiving grant funding. This tool helps to highlight potential need for investment in community-level provision of primary medical, dental and behavioral health services. Population data shown in the UDS mapper includes poverty level, race and ethnicity, insurance status, age, and social environment. By combining patient data with relevant social determinants of health information, users can not only understand where patients currently come from to receive services at a health center, but also the community need based on population health and demographic measures. Those seeking grants and other investments to expand health services can use the UDS Mapper to better understand the environment in their service area.
Identifying the value of a population health approach to the care of individuals and communities can help to recognize determinants of health and the most effective methods for improving health of populations, not just individual patients. To get started with HealthLandscape, you may visit their website, send an email, or sign up for one of their introductory webinars.
-Kathleen Ingraham, MFA, Online & Emerging Media Specialist