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Geographical Information Systems in Healthcare, Coursework Example

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Coursework

GIS has held a place in the healthcare setting for a number of years now. One such system was used for research in mapping health mortality in the London district of Soho. Dr.E.M.Berke[1] headed the study. It was the ability to add varying layers of spatial data and the ability to add links to specific hospital data sets that made this a powerful analytical tool. (Burke, 2013). The use of practice based research tools using GIS is a growing trend. Projects such as the one described here use large numbers of data sets (databases) in order to build analytical models for exploration of infectious diseases. They help in narrowing down the hot spots within large data sets thereby narrowing the field of search for researchers to further investigate the problem areas.

It was Jon Snow, an English physician that opened up the door to the practical use of GIS in research being carried out in 1854. He illustrated mapping concepts around epidemiological research. The advancement of technology now sees projects world-wide using GIS systems and techniques. The research carried out by Berke was intended to help in the improvement of family clinical practices.  This project use large volumes of ‘claim based’ datasets allowing family physician access to a wide range of data applications.

The research was published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, highlighting the benefits to be derived from GIS in the application of family medicine. Varying recommendations were made in the use of GIS Modeling techniques, however they did lack some practical substance at that time. (Burke, 2013).

Use of Decision support systems in Healthcare

Lexi Data from Lexicomp Corporation is one example of a decision support system being used in healthcare.  This focuses upon the applied use of large databases that can be interrogated in order to provide specific drug uses. The software can be integrated into most large database applications. It supports such applications as: Use of drug interactions; Drug allergy interactions; Duplicate therapy checking; use of dosage ranges etc. (Walters Kluwer, 2013).

The system is compatible with Java and .Net and runs on most recognized database applications like Oracle, SQL Server and MySQL. Integration is fairly simple and this facilitates the interrogation of large datasets in order to provide rapid decision support.  The advantages are essentially speed and reliable information from the database.  Results, however, like any clinical decision based support system will require verification and validation.

Another big advantage is the overall improvement in the level of customer support services. Turnaround of information is much more expedient facilitating the level of clinical decision support.  Lexicomp also provides an online information service for dentists and family practitioners.  The system contains some 15 databases that supports information on over 1600 different types of drugs.  The system boasts a comprehensive daily update and is considered to be one of the best sources of pharmacological information in the world. (Norris Medical Library, 2013).

Conclusions

Both GIS and Decision support systems enhance the capabilities of modern relational database systems and provide valuable support in data interrogation and decision support. The toolsets are support tools and still require the skills and expertise of analysts to interpret the data.

References

Burke, E. M. (2013, 7 28). Geographic Information Systems (GIS): Recognising the importance of place in primary care research and practice. Retrieved from JABFM: htp://www.jabfm.org/content/3/1/9.short

Norris Medical Library. (2013, 7 28). Lexicomp online. Retrieved from Norris Medical Library: http://www.usc.edu/e_resources/hsl/gateways/11453.php

Walters Kluwer. (2013, 7 28). Lexicomp. Retrieved from Walters Kluwer: http://www.wolterskluwerhealth.com/ourbrands/pages/lexicomp.aspx

[1] Dr. E.M. Berke Dartmouth Institute for Health policy and clinical practice

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