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Health Atlas Ireland – When Location Really Matters

Johnson, H*; Cullen, C*; Owens, M*; Boyle, E*; Doyle, D*; McDonnell, B*; O’Boyce, B*; Dack, P*; Beaton, D*; Harpe, D De La*; Staines, A; Pringle, D; McKeown, J§

doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000362765.99539.8e
Abstracts: ISEE 21st Annual Conference, Dublin, Ireland, August 25–29, 2009: Symposium Abstracts

*Health Intelligence, Health Service Executive, Dublin, Ireland; †Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland; ‡NUI, Maynooth, Dublin, Ireland; and §Health Protection Surveillance Centre, HSE, Dublin, Ireland.

Abstracts published in Epidemiology have been reviewed by the organizations of Epidemiology. Affliate Societies at whose meetings the abstracts have been accepted for presentation. These abstracts have not undergone review by the Editorial Board of Epidemiology.


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Accessing large datasets, sophisticated analyses and quality mapping of health event and activity patterns have traditionally been time consuming and costly tasks that have often been outsourced on a once-off basis resulting in little institutional learning. Health Atlas Ireland was created by Health Intelligence, Health Service Executive (HSE) to resolve these challenges, achieve value for money, promote information governance, ensure in-house learning and enable internal and external collaboration across disciplines–planning, evaluation, epidemiology, research.

EU tendering processes was used to identify software developers (OpenApp). The Health Research Board and the HPSC provided seed funding. Subsequent resources were negotiated via CMOD. The system is web enabled using open source software with analysis systematised using R within an integrated and intuitive interface.

The following examples illustrate the depth of functionality:

  • Identifying GP service black spots to 1 km2 accuracy (spiderwebs, mesh maps).
  • Hospital flows by patient source and discharge type/complexity (wagon-wheel mapping).
  • Spatial representation of resource allocation inequalities (daisy wheel symbology).
  • Supporting paediatric and cancer service reconfigeration to balance regional demand and skill mix.
  • Spatial representation of hospital performance (indicator symbolisation).
  • Address geocoding and location via imbedded GeoDirectory.
  • Rapid census querying by service areas.
  • Enabling “blue light” response in major emergencies–plume modeling, evacuation zones.
  • Public interface allowing patients to find services and service providers to locate patients.

Health Atlas Ireland continues to meet the diverse and challenging intelligence needs of public health and informs service decision making at the highest level.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.