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Health Services Insights

Use of GIS Mapping as a Public Health Tool—From Cholera to Cancer

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Health Services Insights 2013:6 111-116

Review

Published on 19 Nov 2013

DOI: 10.4137/HSI.S10471


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Abstract

The field of medical geographic information systems (Medical GIS) has become extremely useful in understanding the bigger picture of public health. The discipline holds a substantial capacity to understand not only differences, but also similarities in population health all over the world. The main goal of marrying the disciplines of medical geography, public health and informatics is to understand how countless health issues impact populations, and the trends by which these populations are affected. From the 1990s to today, this practical approach has become a valued and progressive system in ­analyzing medical and epidemiological phenomena ranging from cholera to cancer. The instruments supporting this field include geographic information systems (GIS), disease surveillance, big data, and analytical approaches like the Geographical Analysis Machine (GAM), Dynamic Continuous Area Space Time Analysis (DYCAST), cellular automata, agent-based modeling, spatial ­statistics and self-organizing maps. The positive effects on disease mapping have proven to be tremendous as these instruments continue to have a great impact on the mission to improve worldwide health care. While traditional uses of GIS in public health are static and lacking real-time components, ­implementing a space-time animation in these instruments will be monumental as technology and data continue to grow.



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