Hospitals and Health Systems

Unlocking the Power of GIS for Healthcare Market Development and Engagement

The dynamics of healthcare have changed. In our fast-evolving digital landscape, the power of geographic information system (GIS) technology and location intelligence is emerging as a game-changer for health systems focused on delivering personalized care. By providing a nuanced approach to understanding and communicating with various patients and communities, GIS opens doors to modernized outreach, tailored messaging, and data-informed decision-making.

GIS: More Than Just Maps

While many associate GIS with maps, its potential in the healthcare sector transcends spatial visualization. GIS enables health systems to capture, analyze, and present data in impactful ways such as calculating access to care for your patients, examining the health impacts of their community context through the social determinants of health model, and implementing service reconfigurations that align with local needs. GIS not only makes your own data more valuable, whether it comes from your electronic health record system, claims and billing systems, or other data warehouses, it also makes it easy to source and use additional reliable platforms such as Esri’s Living Atlas of the World and premium data resources. Here are just a few examples of both health-focused datasets and datasets that are cross-cutting to health:

ArcGIS Business Analyst provides data reports, infographics, and area analysis for your service area.

The scope of available data is vast and versatile.

CHNAs and the Changing Landscape of Nonprofit Hospitals

Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNAs), a regulatory requirement for nonprofit hospitals, have also become a pivotal tool for many. These assessments delve deep into the health needs of communities, paving the way for targeted healthcare services and strategic initiatives that relieve immediate suffering and begin to get upstream of pressing health problems for more sustainable resolutions. Ultimately, the intention behind CHNAs is to ensure that nonprofit hospitals actively engage in community betterment. Yet, the regulations surrounding CHNAs, especially concerning their role in nonprofit hospital tax exemptions, have come under scrutiny. Recent discussions have highlighted potential gaps in IRS enforcement, leading to debates about the authenticity of community benefits provided. But here lies the power of GIS: it can be an invaluable asset to nonprofit hospitals, streamlining the CHNA process, showcasing the community initiatives they undertake, and validating their beneficial impact. By leveraging GIS, hospitals can transparently tell their stories and present their contributions, alleviating concerns and emphasizing their ongoing commitment to community health. Further, the CHNA, when digitized and dynamic, transforms into a strategic tool for planning and prioritizing your plans going forward.  

Community health assessment dashboard.

For those seeking an in-depth understanding of CHNAs in the context of IRS regulations, this IRS guide can provide more insight.

Gauging Market Potential with Data and Sentiment Analysis

Before executing your plans and diving into new markets or amplifying current endeavors, health systems require refined, granular data to understand target demographics effectively. GIS tools, like ArcGIS Survey123 and ArcGIS Dashboards, offer a seamless experience in collating individual sentiments, thoughts, and feelings on planned programs. The interoperability of ArcGIS tools streamlines the data analysis process, turning feedback into actionable insights swiftly.

ArcGIS Survey123 used to collect and understand patient sentiment and needs.

Yet another data input is Esri’s Tapestry Segmentation, which classifies US neighborhoods into 67 market segments based on common demographic, consumer, and media behaviors. Tapestry allows health institutions to tailor their messaging and communication channels effectively. Imagine knowing the spending habits, health insurance statistics, or outreach preferences of a particular neighborhood before devising an outreach campaign. The precision offered by GIS, in this regard, is unparalleled.

Esri’s Tapestry Segmentation providing key insights into your target patient population.

With all this amazing geo-enabled data, management teams can assess current markets, improve community awareness of their offerings, and foster growth through a unique competitive edge. Location intelligence is the key to informed decisions for enhanced health outcomes.

Join Us to Explore the Value of GIS for Healthcare Market Development and Engagement

The ever-expanding horizon of GIS in healthcare beckons. To unlock its potential, continuous learning and adaptation are crucial.

Embracing the capabilities of GIS is about more than enhancing outreach and engagement. It’s also about understanding the patients and communities you serve and ensuring that interventions are more relevant, personalized, and effective. For more information visit our website to remain connected.

About the author

Dr. Este Geraghty, MD, MS, MPH, CPH, GISP, is the Chief Medical Officer at Esri where she leads strategy and messaging for the Health and Human Services sector. Dr. Geraghty has been with Esri since 2014 and has led business development and solution development in the market. During her time at Esri, Dr. Geraghty has helped organizations around the world use location intelligence to combat Zika virus, finish the fight against polio, grapple with the opioid crisis, combat homelessness, enhance health preparedness and response, inform strategic planning, optimize healthcare access, and traverse the COVID-19 pandemic while tackling inequity. Formerly the Deputy Director of the Center for Health Statistics and Informatics with the California Department of Public Health, Dr. Geraghty led the state vital records and public health informatics programs. There she engaged in statewide initiatives in meaningful use, health information exchange, open data and interoperability. While serving as an Associate Professor of Clinical Internal Medicine at the University of California at Davis she conducted research on geographic approaches to influencing health policy and advancing community development programs. In addition to her degrees in Medicine, Medical Informatics and Public Health, Dr. Geraghty is also a board-certified public health professional (CPH) and a Geographic Information Systems Professional (GISP).


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