A team of researchers and some of Australia’s leading cardiologists have leveraged today’s cutting edge mapping technology to help combat the leading cause of death in the country – cardiovascular disease.
According to Australia’s Department of Health and Ageing, in 2010 heart disease caused about 32 per cent of all deaths nationally, with coronary heart disease and stroke alone causing almost 33,000 deaths, and more than 6,700 additional deaths being caused by heart failure, hypertensive disease and cardiac arrhythmias
Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Associate Professor Robyn Clark, led the research team towards completing a comprehensive seven-year study that aims to measure current access to cardiac care from a geographic perspective.
The research team looked at the distance to cardiac treatment centre locations in Australia’s 20,000 population centres which enabled them to identify significant gaps between regional and metropolitan access to cardiac care.
“By mapping the huge amounts of statistical data we collected with GIS technology, we were able to identify critical patterns and relationships that would not have been so apparent in tabular form. More specifically, we were able to identify locations and groups of people with limited access to cardiac services.” Clark said.
“For example, we found that only 40 per cent of indigenous people reside within an hour of appropriate cardiac medical facilities and cardiac rehabilitation services, while 12 per cent of indigenous Australians live three or more hours from any kind of hospital.”
The results were also used to create a cardiac health index, which ranks geographic areas according to fatal heart attack risk which would significantly help governments and local communities prioritise locations in terms of risk.
Clark explained that because the index is backed by reputable research, community members and medical organisations will have greater leverage to lobby governments for improved cardiac care where it is needed most. In addition, it is also a valuable tool for governments to determine how to distribute health care infrastructure in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Meanwhile, David Purkiss GIS in Health specialist from Esri Australia said the study had important implications for the use of GIS technology across all areas of healthcare. Beyond cardiac research, Purkiss said the approach can be applied to a whole range of other acute and chronic conditions in areas such as mental health, midwifery, cancer treatment, and burns services.
“Medical information has limited use unless it is combined with knowledge of the environmental factors associated with patients’ locations and conditions.”
“A health system underpinned with GIS technology will ultimately see us all benefit from a more precise understanding of the links between our health and where we reside, work and play,” he said.
In a visit to Ngee Ann Secondary School yesterday (22 July), FutureGov found students deeply ...
The Infocomm Development Authority and Ministry of Education of Singapore have initiated plans to introduce ...
Ngee Ann Secondary School’s students are on a bid to “change the world” with ...