Friday, August 12, 2016

HealthLandscape's New Zika Mapping Tool

Whether you’re a physician looking to respond to the Zika threat or just an individual interested in the most recent Zika developments, HealthLandscape has a new web-based mapping tool to help you keep up with the rapidly evolving Zika virus.

The Zika Mapping Tool displays the number of reported travel-associated and locally-acquired Zika cases by state, as well as state-specific Zika resources and information. This tool will be updated in conjunction with CDC data releases to provide a snapshot of the spread of the virus across the country. The data come from a variety of sources including the CDC and state health departments.

Zika Cases: Travel Associated

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for updates as we add newly released data to the Zika Mapping Tool!

Visit HealthLandscape to start using the Zika Mapping Tool today!

For more information on the Zika virus, visit AAFP’s Zika Virus Outbreak Resource page.

Claire Meehan
User Engagement Specialist

Monday, July 25, 2016

Identifying “Bright Spot” Regions in Healthcare

Today HealthLandscape is releasing the Geospatial Brief, “Where are “Bright Spots” for AppropriateDiabetes Preventive Care?” Using appropriate Diabetes preventive care as a case study, Brief #3 provides an example of how geospatial methods can be used to identify high-performing (“bright spot”) regions. This blog reviews “bright spots” approaches that have been previously used in the healthcare field.

A recent Editorial by long-time primary care advocate Thomas Bodenheimer advocates for finding the “bright spots” in primary care, so that we can “learn from them, and arrange for the bright spots to illuminate the dark corners,” (Bodenheimer, 2014).  Bodenheimer and his colleagues at Stanford’s Clinical Excellence and Research Center (CERC) define “bright spots” as physician groups that are successful at providing high quality care while keeping healthcare costs low. In-depth study of these “bright spots” allowed CERC to identify ten features of primary care delivery associated with higher quality care and lower spending (CERC, 2014). The work of CERC builds from the positive deviance (PD) approach, which is an asset-based framework for identifying organizations or individuals that are successful despite facing more difficult or similar circumstances than others, determining the features which make them successful, and applying the features to other organizations or individuals (Pascale et al., 2010).  The PD framework has been applied in several different healthcare settings, including medical homes (Gabbay et al., 2013), hospitals (Bradley et al., 2009), and local health departments (Klaiman et al., 2014). While they are not referred to as PD or “bright spot” approaches, the Veterans Affairs (VA) is also pushing forward with innovative strategies for improving care for the Veteran population (Elnahal and Littlefield, 2016).

Positive deviance approaches offer great potential in the healthcare field. By identifying successful strategies for improving care and reducing costs, we can apply these strategies and target scarce resources to areas of need.  Using appropriate Diabetes preventive care as a case study, Geospatial Brief #3 details geospatial approaches for identifying “bright spot” regions. This research builds on the first two HealthLandscape Geospatial Research Briefs, which explore the relationship between preventive care, preventable hospitalizations, and spending, and identify priority regions for improving preventive care (Topmiller, 2016a; Topmiller, 2016b).  Future research can use the results of these geospatial briefs for in-depth study of “bright spot” regions, and then apply lessons learned to priority regions.

Michael Topmiller
GIS Strategist 

Bodenheimer, Thomas S., (2014). Find the" bright spots." Joint Commission journal on quality and patient safety/Joint Commission Resources40(4), pp.147-147.

Bradley, Elizabeth H., Leslie A. Curry, Shoba Ramanadhan, Laura Rowe, Ingrid M Nembhard, and Harlan M Krumholz, 2009. Research in action: using positive deviance to improve quality of health care. Implementation Science 4:25.

Clinical Excellence Research Center (CERC), Stanford University, 2014. “America’s Most Valuable Care: Primary Care.” Clinical Excellence Research Center at Stanford University, Bright Spots Research.

Elnahal, Shereef, and Patrick Littlefield. “VA Diffision – spreading and implementing best practices to improve care for our nation’s Veterans.” (blog, March 2, 2016). Accessed at

Gabbay, Robert A., Mark W. Friedberg, Michelle Miller-Day, Peter F. Cronholm, Alan Adelman, and Eric C. Schneider, 2013. A Positive Deviance Approach to Understanding Key Features to Improving Diabetes Care in the Medical Home. Annals of Family Medicine 11(S1): S99-S107.

Klaiman, Tamar A., Athena Pantazis, and Betty Bekemeier, 2014. A Method for Identifying Positive Deviant Local Health Departments in Maternal and Child Health. Frontiers in Public Health Services and Systems Research 3(2).

Pascale, Richard, Jerry Sternin, and Monique Sternin, 2010. The Power of Positive Deviance: How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World’s Toughest Problems. Harvard Business Press, United States of America.

Topmiller, Michael, 2016a. “Do Regions with More Preventive Care Have Lower Spending and Fewer Hospitalizations?”  HealthLandscape Geospatial Research Brief #1. 
Accessed at

Topmiller, Michael, 2016b. “Where are “Hot Spots” of Medicare Spending and Preventable Hospitalizations and “Cold Spots” for Preventive Care?”  HealthLandscape Geospatial Research Brief #2. 

Accessed at

Friday, July 1, 2016

Fact: I Like Food and I Like Eating

I like food and I like eating.  I've been known do it several times a day.  Sometime MORE than several times.

Some of my favorite foods include: Kiwifruit, Bacon, Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Pumpkin, Zucchini, Bacon, Cashew, Cucumber, Bacon, Buckwheat, Fennel, Apple, Bacon, Mango, Avocado, Bacon, Apricot, Sweet Cherry, Sour cherry, Bacon, Almond, Peach, Bacon, Pear, Raspberry, Blackberry, Bacon, Blueberry.

Notice anything in common across this list?  Exactly.  A LOT of these foods require POLLINATION, especially from Bees!  Not only do bees do the heavy lifting of pollination, they make delicious honey.
My daughter getting ready to harvest honey!

For the past three years my neighbor and I have split the cost and labor of maintaining a bee hive, and have made some delicious honey.  To be honest, we actually only collected the honey, it was produced by our highly skilled agricultural labor force of about 30,000 Honey Bees.

Unfortunately, for the second year running, we've lost our bees to one pestilence or another.  We're working hard to find out if it's neighborhood insecticide use, or mites, or what.  Very sad.

Needless to say, we're spending a good deal of time looking into the cause of hive collapse, with the complete loss of bees.

Our bees ('our' meaning the world's bees) are at risk from multiple sources including mites, insecticides, and other threats.  In the First Quarter of 2016, the United States lost over 16 percent of it's bee colonies -- that's 427,900 colonies in the first three months of 2016.  That's a staggering number.

The maps below show the distribution of colonies, the areas hit hardest by colony loss, and the stressors that are impacting the colonies.

Number of Colonies, by State.  First Quarter, 2016

Number of Lost Colonies, by State.  First Quarter, 2016

Percent of Colonies Lost, by State.  First Quarter, 2016.
Percent of Colonies Impacted by Varroa Mite Stressors, by State.  First Quarter, 2016
Percent of Colonies Impacted by Insecticide Stressors, by State.  First Quarter, 2016
Percent of Colonies Impacted by Unknown Stressors, by State.  First Quarter, 2016

It's hard to emphasize the importance of bees and other pollinators to our food supply.  How can I help?

Additional Readings:
USDA: Bee Basics An Introduction to Our Native Bees
National Academy of Sciences -- Resources on Pollinators

Mark A. Carrozza,  MA
Director, HealthLandscape
American Academy of Family Physicians

Friday, June 24, 2016

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

For more information about HealthLandscape visit

Join one of our upcoming webinars!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A Fate Worse Than Death?

High on the list of things people fear, often times higher than death, is public speaking.  I actually enjoy it - getting out there and talking about the great things we are doing here at HealthLandscape.  When I have this opportunity I often get to meet like-minded people doing innovative things in my three main interests: health care, informatics and geography.  

Recently, I was able to present at the URISA GIS and Public Health Conference held in Washington, DC, the work HealthLandscape is doing on linking social determinants of health with data in EHRs.  This work, on what we call Community Vital Signs, is a happy intersection of all three of my interests in a cutting edge platform.  Community Vital Signs brings the data that help us understand how our neighborhoods shape us and how place interacts with diagnoses, treatment plans and ultimately health, to the medical teams that work with us to return us to health or keep us healthy.  We continue to work on novel ways of introducing these data to health care teams so that each team member gets the data they are most able to incorporate into their workflows and act upon.

The focus of the conference was on “Mapping the Way to Healthy Communities.”  In addition to my presentation, my co-worker, Dave Grolling, presented on the HealthLandscape Population Health Mapper - a free, online tool that makes accessible many of the same data as are in our Community Vital Signs tool.  The Population Health Mapper allows users to identify cold spots, or those counties where multiple health indicators or social determinants of health are outside the range of national averages.  We argue that where these indicators pile up, we would expect high health care need and, if there are sufficient providers there, high health care use.

Actually, the HealthLandscape team frequently gets out there and demonstrates the tools we have developed- I encourage you to come see a presentation or attend one of our regularly scheduled webinars.  Just in the next two weeks we will have four presentations- at the:

We look forward to seeing you there!

Jennifer Rankin
Senior Manager for Research and Product Services

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer Learning, Having a Blast!

Interested in learning more about the features and functions in HealthLandscape? Sign up for free webinar sessions to hear about the tools. We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about HealthLandscape, its available functions and data, and potential uses. Please click one of the links below to register for a free webinar.  

ACO Quality Explorer
2:00 PM
2:00 PM
Introduction to HealthLandscape
2:00 PM
11:00 AM
11:00 AM
Population Health Mapper
2:00 PM
2:00 PM
Social Determinants of Health Mapper
2:00 PM

If our webinars do not address do not fit your schedule or address your concerns do not hesitate to Contact Us for a personalized webinar. We are proud of HealthLandscape and are always excited to teach those who are eager to learn!

Stay tuned to hear about HealthLandscape’s presentations and visits to conferences during the month of June. From the capital, to the Bayou State to San Diego, HealthLandscape is working hard to present new tools and features of the HealthLandscape platform.

Claire Meehan
User Engagement Specialist

Friday, May 27, 2016

It's that Time Again - Gearing up for Esri User Conference

Every summer, tens of thousands of geo-enthusiasts descend upon San Diego, CA to learn from and connect with industry peers, get the latest information on new technologies, try out new applications, see ground-breaking innovations from other industries, and develop new skills.

This year's conference is quickly approaching, and we're getting ready to spend a week talking about the work we're doing and hearing from others about how they're helping to improve health across the country and around the world. There are nine health-related paper sessions on the agenda this year, and HealthLandscape will be featured in two of them. If you'll be at the Esri User Conference, plan to attend our talks during the Place Based Health and Progressing Access to Care sessions. Mark Carrozza will be talking about our Community Vital Signs API, a novel way to place patient outcome data in the context of patient communities. I will be discussing the initial results of research on health care quality measures - specifically, whether competition and proximity to other health care organizations affects performance and health outcomes. We're both looking forward to presenting our work and getting feedback from our peers.

In addition to the paper sessions and technical demonstrations, the conference features a User Application Fair. This year, the applications are moving out of the EXPO and will be showcased in the Map Gallery hall. The HealthLandscape Health Workforce Mapper will be among the entries - come check out the distribution of physicians and non-physicians in your community, and cast a vote for our app while you're there.

Not able to attend the conference? We'll be tweeting about the cool things we learn while we're there, so follow us @healthlandscape to keep up! Both HealthLandscape presentations will be available after the conference, and we'll feature a full conference recap on the blog.

Hope to see you there!

Jené Grandmont
Senior Manager, Application Development & Data Services