UK: More NHS organisations are using innovative mapping technologies to help improve local health services. From reducing obesity in Birmingham to plotting hotspots of low immunisation take up in Essex, Ordnance Survey’s intelligent geographic information is being used in a wide range of settings to inform healthcare decision-making.
Accessing digital maps has never been easier thanks to the Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA) – a centrally funded licensing agreement between Government and Ordnance Survey which allows geographic data to be widely available, free at the point of use and shared between all public sector organisations across England and Wales.
A record 2,500 public sector organisations have now registered for the PSMA, including around 100 hospital trusts, all 12 ambulance trusts and more than two thirds of NHS authorities. With responsibility for public health due to move across to local authorities in April 2013, the availability of open and shared geographical data through the Public sector community is making a real difference to collaborative working and effective health service planning.
James Brayshaw, Ordnance Survey’s Customer Director, said, “There are many examples from around the country which provide powerful evidence that geographic information not only helps the NHS do more for less but it helps deliver real improvements to local health services. With new technologies making mapping and reference data easier to use and the public sector agreement allowing information to be shared between all public sector agencies, we hope that more healthcare organisations will start using Ordnance Survey data to underpin their services and create a real momentum for GIS in the NHS.”
In the Midlands, Birmingham NHS is using Ordnance Survey geographic information to map hot food takeaways near schools in a city wide programme to reduce soaring obesity rates. By overlaying data on to interactive digital maps, public health officials found that 71 per cent of all primary and secondary schools in the city have a hot food takeaway within 400 metres. As a result, the city council has now introduced new rules to control the number of unhealthy fast food outlets located near a school and within local centres. Several applications have been refused on these grounds already.