Monday, September 08, 2014

GIS Analysis is a Game Changer in Healthcare

Caleb Benedict
Research Analyst, GIS/IoT
GIS (geospatial information systems) are being used in new and unique ways by an increasing number of industries.  Earlier this year I interviewed SAP's Jim Brooks (SAP's Consumer Insights 365) and he shared how SAP in partnership with Mobile Network Operators were offering all kinds of business insights and GIS analysis as a service.

We at Cognizant often use the term Code Halos, from the book with the same title, to describe data collected and analyzed about people and objects.  Code Halos analysis includes GIS data related to people and objects and used to offer improved marketing, products, services and customer support. In this article, Research Analyst and GIS expert, Caleb Benedict shares how the healthcare industry is using GIS.

Geospatial solutions in healthcare are becoming more advanced and useful. The healthcare analytics industry understands that applying the right geospatial tools in business analysis can reduce expenses, identify new business opportunities, and earn huge ROI’s.

Currently the global healthcare market is forecasted to be worth over $3 trillion by 2015. Of that $3 trillion, the healthcare analytics industry will be worth roughly $10 billion. Clearly there is a massive demand for healthcare analytics. That’s why some GIS developers have chosen to focus their efforts on GIS solutions for the medical services world. From mobile apps that manage ambulance fleets to geographically referencing patient residences - GIS developers are creating suites of products for the medical industry.

Healthcare analysis can help identify how to make business operations more efficient, and where new business opportunities might be found. GIS has been able to mature into a valuable tool in this process. Hospitals who choose to apply GIS analysis are better able to understand their patients, are and where they are located by geographically referencing their location and building an attribute table using patient demographics. This allows hospitals to be more purposeful, competitive, identify new potential hospital and facility sites, and find areas where marketing efforts should be focused.

In addition to the ROI’s from the businesses’ use of GIS, there are a wide range of benefits that can directly contribute to community health. Mapping disease spread is a prime example of applying geographic principles to help the overall health of a population. Among other things GIS allows hospitals to identify health needs and trends in particular communities so hospitals can better serve patients, and be prepared with trained staff and the necessary facilities, equipment and medicines required.

Medical responders and government officials can also use GIS tools to understand the path a disease takes and where it will likely spread. Currently Red Cross and UN officials are implementing these practices in West Africa to more effectively combat the Ebola virus. They were able to identify patient zero by geographically referencing (plotting locations on a map) Ebola victims and following the path those locations created. They can also predict where the disease will spread next and how they can better serve the affected populations.
Strategic planning is where GIS really becomes a game changer. By applying GIS analytics to healthcare hospitals can better identify new or emerging business opportunities leading to improved patient care and higher revenues.

Here are several forecasts related to GIS:

Global healthcare services will be worth $3 trillion by 2015

Healthcare analytics will grow to $21 billion by 2020

GIS analytics is forecasted to be valued at $16 billion by 2020
Kevin Benedict
Writer, Speaker, Senior Analyst
Digital Transformation, EBA, Center for the Future of Work Cognizant
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I am a mobility and digital transformation analyst, consultant and writer. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.