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‘How Public Health Ontario (PHO) has developed an interactive online platform using mapping software to deliver timely and relevant analytical products to the public health community’

InstantAtlas talks to Jeremy Herring

Epidemiologist Lead, Public Health Ontario

Niagra Horseshoe Falls, Ontario, Canada

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‘How Public Health Ontario (PHO) has developed an interactive online platform using mapping software to deliver timely and relevant analytical products to the public health community’

 

Background

 

 

Public Health Ontario (PHO) is dedicated to protecting and promoting the health of everyone living in Ontario and reducing inequities in health. It links public health practitioners, frontline health workers and researchers to scientific intelligence and knowledge from around the world. As well as operating public health laboratories, its work includes research, professional development and knowledge services. PHO’s main clients are local public health units, government and health care providers and institutions.

 

Getting started

 

PHO wanted to develop a reporting system for public health information. This started with the need to create a dashboard that could be used to support the public health community in making informed decisions and taking informed action to protect and promote public health. Jeremy Herring Epidemiologist Lead, says this was the point at which a centralized business intelligence platform that makes PHO’s analytic products accessible to various audiences.

 

“A colleague of mine did an environmental scan and software review which included the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a Global Health Observatory (WHO). Both were using mapping software Instant Atlas to create online data hubs” says Jeremy. “We wanted to create a dashboard reporting tool that would allow us to provide the components that our stakeholders in the province had identified were important.”

 

The team decided that InstantAtlas was the best option because of its simplicity in terms of content creation. “We also liked the way it could be used to create a dashboard and how data could be aggregated and presented to different user groups,” says Jeremy. “We currently use SAS and we found it was easy to get the data into the right format for InstantAtlas. The challenge, as always, was to find the best way to update the template. In the end we used the InstantAtlas Data Manager which allowed us to do this from our Access database.”

 

Meeting the need

 

The team created a suite of interactive web-based tools to provide timely and relevant analysis for users of the website. InstantAtlas was used for ‘Snapshots @ PHO’, which is a collection of interactive map-based dashboards showing both geographic and temporal trends. Initial reports focused on chronic disease and related risk factors, while subsequent areas will include cancer, injury and reproductive health.

 

The tools are making population health assessment and surveillance information more readily available and Jeremy says the feedback has been positive, because such a dashboard hasn’t been available before. “Now that people are using it we are getting suggestions coming back to us about new metrics that could be added and new indicator areas,” he says.

 

Future Developments

 

Snapshots @ PHO currently uses the flash-based single map template and there are plans to use the HTML5-based version that can be used with tablets and other mobile devices. “We are also exploring other templates such as the area profiles” says Jeremy.

 

Top top technical tip when using InstantAtlas

 

"If you are working with large amounts of data requiring frequent updates, go straight for the InstantAtlas Data Manager tool in Access instead of the Excel plug-in, which makes the updating process much easier."

 

See recorded Webinar 'Automating InstantAtlas production using Access Data Manager' by Charles Utermohle, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

 

Key benefits of Snapshots @ PHO

 

  • The team has created a centralized business intelligence platform that makes PHO’s analytic products accessible to various audiences
  • The initiative improves efficiency as one organization in the province is providing analysis versus 36 public health units (PHUs) doing it individually
  • It gives all PHUs timely access to indicators regardless of analytic capacity
  • It allows public health professionals to spend more time interpreting results
  • It uses core indicators endorsed by the Association of Public Health Epidemiologists in Ontario (APHEO) to meet a broad range of public health stakeholder needs
  • The tool enables routine analysis which can then be used as a starting point for more detailed analysis

 

Snapshots @PHO was developed using

InstantAtlas Desktop

 

Public Health Reporting with InstantAtlas

 

VIDEO TUTORIAL

Health profiles are an increasingly popular way of presenting snapshot overviews of health for localities or regions in a given area.

 

See examples how InstantAtlas is being used to create public health profiles at a regional levels

 

See also