A key question in many discussions on health care is one that explores the impact of access to care by geography. In this regard, many visualizations use physician supply and demand data to display access to care challenges and health care professional shortage areas. Given that many people receive care through a hospital, the visualization in this application uses hospitals and population projections to identify future shortage areas. In addition to offering a different perspective on projected shortage areas, the visualization uses interactive tools that could help consumers compare hospital service providers on the basis of price, quality, and utilization.
The interactive healthcare map includes two layers of information. The first layer contains population growth projections by county through 2017. Each county includes a pop-up chart that shows growth rates in 5-year increments. The second layer comprises hospital data elements such as pricing (i.e. charge amounts), quality, and utilization by address. Each pop-up for a hospital not only includes pricing, quality, and utilization data but it also contains comparisons to the state averages. Interactivity occurs through filters in the map layers that enable targeted searches by state, hospital name, and city. For the consumer, the map is a tool that can facilitate analysis of choices before a purchasing decision. For the public health professional, the map is a planning guide for resource allocation decisions. For the policy maker, the map is metric system that reveals strategies in the context of a changing environment.