Friday, October 25, 2019

Global Health and the World Health Mapper

Today, half the world’s population cannot access essential health services. Millions of women give birth without help from a skilled attendant; millions of children miss out on vaccinations against killer diseases, and millions suffer and die because they can’t get treatment for HIV, TB, and malaria. In 2019, this is simply unacceptable.

Statement by WHO Director-General on World Health Day 2019

HealthLandscape has developed the World Health Mapper as part of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) Center for Global Health Initiatives (CGHI)  The CGHI aims to support AAFP members' professional efforts to be globally engaged, and promote family medicine and population-based, patient-centered, primary health care on a global scale.

The World Health Mapper includes international health measures of Key Health Indicators, Healthcare Spending, Workforce, Child Health, and the distribution of Global Family Medicine.  The Mapper draws data primarily from the World Bank, as well as detailed data on the reach of Global Family Medicine training culled from AAFP data stores.

The World Health Mapper is a powerful tool for visualizing and understanding global health
data, including a variety of country-level health indicators that can be displayed using maps, tables, bar charts, trend graphs, as well as the ability to examine relationships between two indicators with side- by-side comparison maps.

I had a great time introducing the World Health Mapper at the 2019 AAFP Global Health Summit held October 9-12 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Our presentation was well attended and participants offered suggestions on additions to the tool, including not only more statistics, but also substantive information about health and social conditions "on the ground" in each country. Students, residents, and others can use these data when considering international training and residency programs. I appreciate their feedback and we're reviewing their suggestions for inclusion in an update to the World Health Mapper.

This was the first Global Health Summit I had attended, and I was really blown away by the excitement and passion attendees and presenters had for their work.  I saw two days of thought provoking presentations, but what stuck out in my mind was a Friday morning session "Practicing Global Health in Your Own Backyard", presented by Leopoldine Matialeu and Regina Wang from the University of California, San Diego.  They demonstrated how, with a range of immigrants, asylum seekers, or refugees already living in the US, it is possible to design and implement a residency curriculum that addresses patients from different backgrounds and cultures, without the need to traveling to other countries.  This was very exciting and we're brainstorming at HealthLandscape about how we can use HealthLandscape tools to support similar efforts around the U.S.

I admit, it was also very cool that (serendipitously?) the Global Health Summit overlapped somewhat with an international balloon festival being held in Albuquerque that same week.  I didn't get a chance to go over to the festival, but the wind was kind enough to send some of the balloons over our way early one morning.  Beautiful!

Mark Carrozza

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Impressions from URISA GIS-Pro 2019

Another year, another exciting time at Urban and Regional Information System Association’s (URISA) annual GIS-Pro conference. This time I traded the dry, desert landscape of Palm Springs (last year’s conference) for the overbearing humidity and heat of New Orleans. Not only was I looking forward to exploring a new city, but I attended this year’s GIS-Pro wearing two hats, one as a presenter, and one as chapter leader of one of URISA’s regional chapters. I was there to learn, connect, eat, have fun, and explore. One of the great things about working with HealthLandscape is that I have the opportunity to attend conferences like GIS-Pro, gain professional development, and present on the work that we do. 

Traditionally, the conference is preceded by a full-day array of workshops. This year, I attended one on GIS in program management, where I gained insight into strategic and implementation planning, financial management, and other challenges that program managers face in the geospatial world. At the plenary the next day, I learned about the Earth as Art program, where the University of Louisiana Lafayette is seeking to turn satellite imagery of the earth into high resolution art galleries. The keynote came from the NOAA Office for Coastal Management. They presented on their efforts to map the coast of the United States so that high resolution data can be readily available at the local level Working in a diverse industry like GIS, it’s easy to fall behind in topics that aren’t covered by my role at HealthLandscape. I see opportunities like conference plenaries to stay abreast of what’s being done at other organizations.

In one of the education sessions, the presenters explored various methods for employing GIS in the cloud. They spoke about best practices for creating data for cloud environments and how data and server management are changing. They demonstrated, through the use of Python programming, that cause and effect actions, called triggers, can be applied to databases so that processes can be automated. This was insightful to hear as the next day I would give a talk on improving workflows using programming in GIS. Over the past year, HealthLandscape has sought out ways to make certain tasks more efficient with the use of Python programming. From projects where the output is multiple maps showing the distribution of various health care specialties for each state to automating multi-step geocoding and processing tasks, HealthLandscape has been employing programming to optimize how we manage data and produce static map deliverables.

Over the last year I have been working to restart a once-dormant URISA local chapter. I attended GIS-Pro to represent the Chesapeake chapter to continue that effort. At each GIS-Pro, there is an annual chapter leader’s forum meeting with the URISA board of directors and other chapter representatives. This is an opportunity to bring up concerns, ask questions, and to hear from the board of directors about the changes that affect how chapters are administered. As a leader, I also took this meeting as an opportunity to learn how other chapters are being run and the struggles that they’re facing as they relate to membership retention, budgeting, governance, and education. On the last day of the conference I volunteered for the GIS-Pro 2020 conference planning committee. Since next year’s GIS-Pro will take place in Baltimore, Maryland, it will be an opportunity to connect with local GIS professionals and to show off the reinvigorated Chesapeake Chapter.

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Dave Grolling
GIS Strategist

Monday, October 7, 2019

National Primary Care Week (NPCW) 2019 will be held October 7 – 11

This week marks the 20th year for National Primary Care Week, a week led by medical students with an interest in specializing in primary care. The week focuses on ensuring we have new health care providers interested in practicing primary care and addressing issues that many primary care providers encounter, including addressing health disparities.

HealthLandscape builds tools that may be helpful as you embark on National Primary Care Week, providing data to better understand healthcare workforce shortages and maldistribution as well as socioeconomic, demographic, and population health data. As you celebrate National Primary Care Week, visit these tools:

October 7: Building the Primary Care Workforce
Use the HealthLandscape Workforce Explorer ( to look at data related to where providers of primary care practice across the U.S.and compare it to the population. What areas have high population to provider ratios? Is one primary care specialty carrying more of the primary care burden than others?

October 9: Your Primary Care: Getting into Residency
Use the HealthLandscape Residency Footprinter ( to look at the areas that are served by graduates of Family Medicine residency programs. Explore what areas would be underserved areas if we withdrew the graduates from a residency program to see the social impact Family Medicine has across the country.

October 10: Health Disparities Day of Action 
Almost all of the tools in the HealthLandscape stable have information on social determinants of health. Visit for a list of tools or visit these in particular:
  • The Population Health Mapper ( has county level data on social determinants of health that users can add to see what areas are cold spots for health- those areas where many SDOH factors stack up are the ones that are likely to have high health care needs.
  • Similarly, the 500 Cities Mapper ( does the same thing but at a census tract level for the 500 largest cities in the United States.
If you have questions or comments, we’d love to hear from you. We’d also like to know how you found HealthLandscape tools useful (or not) as you use them to inform your National Primary Care Week work and beyond.

Jennifer Rankin, PhD
Senior Manager, Research and Product Services, HealthLandscape

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

HealthLandscape at NACHC CHI (and a busy fall!)

The HealthLandscape team was busy last month in Chicago! We attended the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) Community Health Institute (CHI) alongside health center staff, executives and board members, state and regional Primary Care Associations (PCAs), and Health Center Controlled Networks (HCCNs). It’s the largest gathering of this audience each year and a great opportunity to interact with some of the 1,400 health center organizations that serve the United States. HealthLandscape was exhibiting, presenting, and training attendees on how to use the UDS Mapper.

What is the UDS Mapper? Health centers have, since the 1960s, served the underserved regardless of one’s ability to pay. Health centers funded under the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) Health Center Program are required to report patient, clinical, and operational data each year into the Uniform Data System, or UDS. The UDS Mapper allows health centers and stakeholders to map these data and compare with available resources and population data. Health centers use the UDS Mapper to create service area maps for various grant opportunities, do strategic planning, perform needs assessments, and much more. At CHI, HealthLandscape was offering UDS Mapper demonstrations in the exhibit hall and one-on-one UDS Mapper trainings. We presented The UDS Mapper Identifies Health Center Opportunities to Support the Health Care Safety Net: The Case of Rural Hospital Closures and displayed a poster entitled Exploring Health Center Penetration in Medicare Spending Priority Areas.

Screenshot of UDS Mapper

We love to get out and talk about ways to use health and population data (especially geospatial data) to better understand and serve our communities. It’s a great opportunity to meet the people who use our tools and get feedback on how to make the tools better. To that end, we at HealthLandscape have already started our busy fall - watch for more information on our upcoming appearances:

We’ll be presenting at these conferences on a variety of HealthLandscape tools, our research, and more. We hope to see you this fall!

Jessica McCann
User Engagement Specialist, HealthLandscape

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

HealthLandscape Joins Esri Partner Network

HealthLandscape has joined the Esri Partner Network as a Silver Tier Partner.  As Silver Partners, HealthLandscape joins a global community of geographic information system (GIS) specialists offering expertise, solutions, and services in ArcGIS and related products.

As a Silver Tier Partner, HealthLandscape receives exclusive communication and collaboration services, in addition to Esri software use and knowledge to better meet our customers’ needs. This benefits HealthLandscape clients in a number of key ways, including:
  • Access to the full suite of Esri products for testing and developing new tools and functionality;
  • Access to “early” knowledge of technology and product changes; and
  • Access to industry leading experts and thought leaders within Esri and partners worldwide.

We are excited to join the Esri Partner Network and use its many benefits to support our customers. This partnership will also allow us to strengthen our offerings and Esri programs like the ArcGIS Living Atlas and ArcGIS Marketplace will allow us to highlight our capabilities and expand into additional markets.

Esri is a developer and marketer of proprietary GIS software, data, and online and professional services. The Esri Partner Network is a global network of partners that share a common vision, interests and goals with Esri; apply geospatial industry best practices; and employ innovative business strategies to deliver market-leading geospatial solutions and services based on Esri technology. Lean more about the Esri Partner Network at

Mark Carrozza
Director, HealthLandscape

Friday, August 16, 2019

National Immunization Awareness Month

In 1796, the first vaccine was administered to protect the populace against smallpox. Since then, researchers and scientists have developed and tested a multitude of vaccines against diseases such as cholera, yellow fever, tuberculosis, polio, measles, Lyme disease, and hepatitis A. These preventive measures are a way of cutting down the risk of contracting fatal pathogens. Vaccines work by building up your immune system so that if and when you are exposed to pathogens, your body is prepared to fight against it. Being inoculated against a particular illness not only bolsters your protection, but also that of those around you.

Sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and coordinated by the National Public Health Information Coalition, National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) is held every August to highlight the importance of vaccination. The Public Health Foundation cites three key points that the NIAM campaign focuses on:

  1. vaccines are important in protecting people against disease
  2. vaccines are recommended for all stages of one’s life, and
  3. having a reliable health care provider who is knowledgeable is integral in making sure people get the vaccines they need.
Throughout the NIAM campaign, each week in August targets a specific theme. The first week focuses on babies and pregnant women, the second on children, pre-teens, and teens, followed by young adults in the third week. The last week during NIAM is dedicated to promoting vaccines among adults.

HealthLandscape, in collaboration with the Health of the Public and Science (HOPS) division of the American Academy of Family Physicians, has created an Immunizations Mapper. This mapping application displays state level immunization information for legislative purposes. It is grouped into three main topics covering vaccine-specific coverage levels for children 19-35 months, adolescents 13-17 years, and influenza/pneumococcal vaccination coverage. Users can select a variety of vaccines to display the coverage rate for DTaP, MMR, Varicella, Tdap, HPV, and influenza and streptococcus pneumoniae. When users click on the data table feature of the application, they can view data on which states have the authority to operate an Immunization Information System (IIS) for adults or children, reporting requirements, whether children and adults can opt out via a consent form, and the state registry website.

Percent coverage among children 19-35 months for the vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella (source: CDC)

HealthLandscape users can also find vaccine related measures in Community HealthView, our extensive data library for state and county level data on topics ranging from demographics to veterans to chronic health to economics. Users will find several indicators related to vaccine coverage including percentage of the population 65 and over with an influenza vaccine in the past year and percentage of the population 65 and over that ever had a pneumococcal vaccine. Both of these indicators are from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) for data years 2006-2012.

Percent adults 65 and over with an influenza vaccine (source: BRFSS)

Legislators, health professionals, and public health experts can use tools like HealthLandscape’s Immunizations Mapper and Community HealthView during the NIAM campaign to pinpoint areas to target resources and to collect information on current legislation as they relate to vaccine coverage.

Dave Grolling
GIS Strategist, HealthLandscape

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Celebrating Health Center Week

National Health Center Week (NHCW) is an annual time to celebrate the nation’s health centers which serve as health homes to over 28 million otherwise underserved patients. Health centers are incubi for innovations to serve the whole patient including their social determinants of health (SDOH). For NHCW, August 4-10, 2019, every day has a different theme within which we can honor the health centers that are rooted in the communities they serve - within and outside of the clinic walls.

Today, Sunday, August 4, the theme is Social Determinants. SDOH have been shown to have a larger impact on personal health than medical care, genetics and health behaviors. Growing awareness of the impact of SDOH has led to calls by federal agencies to include SDOH in health care decision-making and payment as well as patient risk stratification. The National Academy of Medicine included 17 social and behavioral domains of SDOH data (“neighborhood” data is the only domain that is not individual-level data) to capture in EHRs as a part of Meaningful Use, and many organizations have developed tools to help organizations capture those data. Other organizations, like HealthLandscape, use data from secondary sources which tell us a lot about the neighborhood where a person lives, therefore already filling in much of the picture without needing to capture data on all 16 individual-level domains, or adding to the picture in other cases.

But the question remains - what do we do with these data once they are captured and added to the EHR? Who needs those data? What will they look like? How do we integrate them with clinical data? Most solutions are still focused on the individual patient - connecting patients to resources and providing referrals - but what about the population health targets like payment reformation and patient-risk stratification? HealthLandscape is working on these and other questions related to the addition of these data to EHRs. In our Community Vital Signs suite of tools we have many different visualizations of patient data - both clinical and community data - so we can test and improve the inclusion of SDOH in health care to improve population health. Visit our Population Health Profiler to see one example of these tools.

In the meantime, our other mapping tools like the UDS Mapper and others allow you to quickly visualize (without full EHR integration) how SDOH affect communities. Within the UDS Mapper we provide ZIP Code-level SDOH. Users can explore their communities and see where there are pockets of need, identify areas for growth, and plan to meet community needs. Health centers have always been rooted in communities, and the UDS Mapper is the tool that helps visualize need in those communities.

If you have questions, or would like assistance with any of the HealthLandscape tools mentioned above, please contact us anytime. 

Jennifer Rankin
Senior Manager, Research and Product Services