Utilizing GIS to Identify Health Care Deserts

Authors: Ray Oldakowski*, Jacksonville University, Ashley Johnson*, Jacksonville University
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: Health Care, Well-Being, GIS
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Truman, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


There is tremendous potential for Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to benefit the health care industry. Researchers have successfully used GIS to help address a number of significant health issues ranging from disease management to improved healthcare services. Historically, medical geographers have used GIS to map and describe disease incidence and dissemination. Increasingly, health planners are using GIS to measure accessibility to health services. This paper integrates the spatial aspects of health care services and well-being. Using geospatial data, we have developed a wellness index at the census block level for Jacksonville, Florida. Based on the composite score from this index, we identified areas of Jacksonville as “health care deserts”. This paper describes the process of creating the spatial and composite indices and the application and evaluation of those indices at the block group level. Findings of this research include health care desert geographies that expand and contract based on the socioeconomic and wellness variables, and special population considerations (e.g. the elderly and children). Our research demonstrates that a spatially explicit analysis of socioeconomic variables and wellness infrastructure can illustrate disparities and inequities in the health care landscape of Jacksonville, Florida.

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