Web-based geo-visualisation of spatial information to support evidence-based health policy: a case study of the development process of HealthTracks.
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Place is of critical importance to health as it can reveal patterns of disease spread and clustering, associations with risk factors, and areas with greatest need for, or least access to healthcare services and promotion activities. Furthermore, in order to get a good understanding of the health status and needs of a particular area a broad range of data are required which can often be difficult and time consuming to obtain and collate. This process has been expedited by bringing together multiple data sources and making them available in an online geo-visualisation, HealthTracks, which consists of a mapping and reporting component. The overall aim of the HealthTracks project is to make spatial health information more accessible to policymakers, analysts, planners and program managers to inform decision-making across the Department of Health Western Australia. Preliminary mapping and reporting applications that have been utilised to inform service planning, increased awareness of the utility of spatial information and improved efficiency in data access were developed. The future for HealthTracks involves expanding the range of data available and developing new analytical capabilities in order to work towards providing external agencies, researchers and eventually the general public access to rich local area spatial data
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