Geelong’s future health hotzones placed on the map

By Olivia Blake 10 Jul 2013

Cutting-edge mapping technology is underpinning a new generation of targeted health services in Geelong, helping Victoria’s largest not-for-profit private healthcare provider plan its new $447 million teaching hospital for that region.

Developed by digital mapping specialists MapData Services (MDS), the new demographic mapping solution has helped Epworth HealthCare research the target population likely to seek private healthcare services.

Epworth is moving ahead with plans for a state-of-the-art health facility that integrates clinical practice, teaching and research; located next to the Deakin University campus at Waurn Ponds.

Epworth HealthCare Group Manager Lisa Smith said the technology provides a valuable visual representation of where private health patients live and what services are available in their immediate area.

“We use the technology to generate colour-coded digital maps that show the density of private hospital patients across Victoria according to local government area, as well as where existing services are located,” said Ms Smith.

“Understanding the future healthcare needs of Geelong means we are able to gain a clear understanding of where private health facilities could have a stronger market presence.

“The maps help our planners easily visualise where and how we want to increase our hospital network and provide health services to people living in that corridor.”

Ms Smith said MapData Services’ mapping technology will support Epworth’s 20-year development plan, which includes the redevelopments of their Camberwell and Richmond hospitals.

Mapping technology enables users to visualise data in a very intuitive way, so it’s a powerful tool when presenting future planning and development information to board members and other stakeholders,” Ms Smith said.

MDS General Manager Cassandra Barker said that using technology to map and analyse research data would become essential for the Australian health industry, especially when driving new infrastructure development.

“This is certainly a growth area for the local health sector – where beyond identifying service gaps or growth opportunities, we are starting to see mapping technologies used to explore the origins and causes of illness and disease,” said Ms Barker.

Mapping data gives our healthcare professionals, policy makers and researchers a better understanding of the location-based elements of a disease – which may be used when deciding where to build future healthcare facilities or target education campaigns, for example.

“The technology is a perfect fit for health awareness campaigns, because it can convey complex data typically stored in tables or databases in an incredibly engaging visual format – that anyone can easily interpret. 

“Epworth is amongst a growing number of health departments, hospitals, universities, research institutes and pharmaceutical companies across Australia and New Zealand which are discovering the value of using mapping technology to make more informed business decisions for the benefit of us all.”

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