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Advantages of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) In Healthcare

  • By Durka Devi
  • December 17, 2019

Do you know how GIS technology is making an impact on Healthcare?
Geographic Information system (GIS) is a  spatially connected element that is used for storing, managing, monitoring, analyzing and visualizing the geographic data.   
The function of GIS is mainly based on a collection of data which is a database used by different users to make decisions about numerous issues. These data are associated with respective geographic features on the earth’s surface. It helps users to analyze and integrate spatial data and present their ideas in the form of a map in various fields such as transportation, Research, business, economics, etc.,
Here we will have a look into the Advantages of GIS in healthcare. 

Advantages of GIS in Healthcare

  • Identifying health trends
  • Tracking the spread of infectious disease
  • Utilizing personal data
  • Improves services
  • Investigation of diseases and planning of interventions
  • Incarnation and reconnaissance analysis of epidemiological data

Why GIS in Healthcare?

While addressing any of the crises or problems and arriving on the solution alone couldn’t be able to reach the corresponding source. For that, we have to give some maps or image to understand quickly without going deeper into it and makes them grab the information easily. GIS plays a vital role, it is a collection of science and technology tools that gives accurate results in the form of a map which is easily assessable. 

Development & Impact of GIS in Healthcare

When GIS was introduced in Healthcare, and How can it be possibly be applied to public health? if you have any of these questions with you here is a flashback of GIS in healthcare you should know.
In the 4th-5th century,  Hippocrates studied how one’s location impacts the health of others. He found that people living in low lying areas affected heavily compared with high elevations because of Malaria. In 1984, Dr. John Snow, a physician in London has introduced the mapping in Medical Research.
He used the land drawn maps and superimposed the location of cholera affected areas with maps of public water supplies. And showed that death locations clustered on low lying areas. Then it was treated and the death rates were decreased significantly. This is the first attempt of GIS entering into the field of Medical. And this was how GIS slowly started creating an impact in health sectors as you must have already witnessed yourself.

How can GIS be applied in healthcare?

GIS is a tool which plays a vital role in Hospital administration, Healthcare services and public management system. Initially, it is more popular in real estate, Transportation sectors, after knowing the excellent decision-making ability in the healthcare sector, it blows up to the next stage. There are two factors in understanding the presence of GIS in this sector.
Incidence is that it scrutinizes new diseases over a particular period. Next to that is Prevalence is the incidence of existing diseases for a specific period of time. These two took a major place in GIS Application the reason behind is a disease cause more death rate will have a higher impact on incidence than prevalence. After finishing these steps, datasets are another important factor to consider.
GIS uses geospatial data that is population data, road network, healthcare service centers location data and Statistics of health issues. Data from healthcare management to analyze and make decisions on creating a new facility of healthcare services, anticipate needs in their area and take immediate actions to handle the unfavorable situation.

Ongoing studies on GIS in Healthcare

So many studies were conducted to check the availability of services in their area, risk management and to provide a healthy environment. For instance, in Ethiopia, people faced more difficulty in obtaining medical services. If people have to travel a long distance for medical services to secure their lives,  there is the possibility of worst-case / death.
Spatial healthcare accessibility was done with the location of healthcare and availability to support the people to get Good medical services from their affected area and it was measured with the help of distance traveled and traveling time. Based on 30 and 60 min traveling time scenario, it serves the nearby accessibility of health center or hospital in Ethiopia. 
On the other hand, the Global status report on road safety says that 1.35 million people are killed on roadways around the world. Because of poor care quality death rate has been raised because of insufficient care for the public. Studies say that the life expectancy for the U.S. population declined to 78.6 years in 2017.
To mitigate these undesirables and monitor the status of health, the contribution of GIS is important. Universities and Public health departments also conducting research on this to create operational awareness for Health officials to take rapid decisions during emergencies. 

Also Read

Top 6 Industries For Geographic Information Systems (GIS)


To investigate various aspects of healthcare accessibility, GIS is an effective tool to arrive at the fine-tuned solution. Preventing the spread of communicable diseases is a curial reason behind the implementation of GIS in healthcare. The health sector is also making improvements by tracking those data for effective functionalities in public health.
The application of GIS provides the capability to identify high priority areas that require emergency care. Health and disease management is key to the socio-economic development of any society.  So, this approach offers substantial benefits to healthcare sectors across the world. 
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Durka Devi

A Junior GIS Engineer, expertizes in ArcMap, ArcGIS, ERDAS Imagine, Arc-SWAT, HEC-RAS and HEC-HMS, Mapping spatial data, Designing water-related structures. With extended knowledge in designing, modeling, keen eyes on Research and development. She also has a passion for fashion designing and loves to write her thoughts in her leisure.