Finding ROI in a swirl of data analytics

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Medical teams at Children's National Health System want to keep kids out of harm's way, so they offer injury prevention advice to residents of nearby communities. And technology has proved to be a key component of that initiative -- clinicians have found that using geospatial data helps them better target their messages.

The Washington, D.C.-based healthcare center took its existing electronic health records system and integrated it with geospatial software from Esri to display health data with geospatial coordinates. One of the first projects focused on pediatric burn cases.

"What GIS mapping allowed us to do is identify the hotspots where injuries were occurring and map them out," says Dr. Randall Burd, chief of trauma and burn surgery at Children's National.

That visual map enables staffers to devise prevention programs tailored to the demographics of areas with high rates of injuries, Burd says. For example, if the system identifies a cluster of toddlers with bad burns in a Hispanic neighborhood, the staff will work with community groups to provide parents of young children with Spanish-language information about safety. Burd says the work has paid off: Children's National is seeing fewer burn patients overall and fewer patients requiring high-level burn care.

Jefferson McMillan, manager of business intelligence and clinical analytics, says Children's National had a strong analytics program before implementing the GIS component but adds that the mapping feature helps staffers "better understand what happens outside the four walls of our hospital to better prevent disease and conditions."

McMillan says Children's National is now using the technology to map concentrations of other medical conditions, such as obesity and asthma.


Mary K. Pratt

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