Mapping a Healthier Nation with Tom Horan and Health 2.0 EDU
EDU: Health Geoinformatics seems like an incredibly useful tool. Why are we just learning about it and integrating it now? Have there been barriers to using it that are now gone?
TH:Until recently, Health Geoinformatics was mostly used in epidemiology or population health realms. Due to a variety of health care changes, including federal health care reform, the link between clinical and population health has become much closer and this has increased interest greatly. Also, there is much more spatially-oriented data available now.
EDU: Some people feel that one of the biggest challenges to using Health Geoinformatics is the ability to collect enough data to actually make meaningful discoveries about behavior. Do you agree?
TH: In general, yes, and more specifically the biggest challenge is getting the right clinical data, which is often more timely and detailed than population data. Forming partnerships with health systems, health information exchanges, and so forth can be very important in overcoming this challenge.
EDU: How will the role of Health Geoinformatics change in light of health care reform?
TH: Health care reform has a number of provisions that link health systems to the greater community (such as readmission reimbursement changes, accountable care organizations and so forth). These changes will require a better spatial understanding of what happens in the community and that is what Health GeoInformatics is geared to do.
TH: The opportunity to make Health 2.0’ers more aware that place and space still matter, even in this information age!