“Using interactive maps to involve local communities in health and social care service development while informing commissioning decisions”

Kent and Medway Public Health Observatory has developed Health and Social Care Maps to give an overview of local healthcare needs and service gaps. The maps pull together information from a range of sources across both health and social care and are helping to involve local communities in health and social care service development while informing commissioning decisions. We spoke to Emily Silcock, Public Health Information Analyst at the Observatory about the interactive maps.

When did you first discover mapping software?

The team first became aware of InstantAtlas when looking at the SEPHO website (now SEKIT) over 5 years ago and had seen the mapping software being used on other health related websites. At the time the observatory was looking for a way to present various indicators to meet its objectives of providing public health intelligence and knowledge management support to Kent County Council, Clinical Commissioning Groups, district councils and other public sector organisations in Kent and Medway. The first project was to create maps based on the data collected for the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA). At the time the team was producing individual maps in PDF format for each of the 13 districts which was time-consuming.

How did you find working with interactive maps?

I had a couple of training sessions with the IA support team and then started to upload JSNA data which had come from different sources. This meant working with a wide range of data from hospital admissions, to mortality rates, birth rates, general fertility to information from the National Child Measurement Programme as well as indices on child deprivation. There were a couple of points where I got stuck with some formatting, but in the end it was straightforward. I have also produced a school health atlas as a separate project. This has two layers of geography with data being presented at ward level and then at school level.


HTML5 Double Map atlas showing ‘The average number of years a baby born in a particular area or population can be expected to live if it experiences the current age-specific mortality rates of that particular area or population throughout its life’. Source: SEPHO, ONS

How are the maps being used?

The Health and Social Care Maps are being used by a range of users within health and social care have been accessing the site. The team gets ad hoc requests which can then be dealt with by referring them to the maps.

As for the school health atlas, the insight is used to provide an aggregated district profile of potential determinants of health and inequalities in Kent Schools. This information is now being used by school nurses to work out where they should focus their efforts. I developed a User Guide to make it possible for a range of professionals who are tackling public health need assessments for the first time, to use InstantAtlas.

The maps are also helping to inform the School Health Plan and integrated delivery framework for School Nursing Service and Healthy Schools programme for each district. We use the tool to generate individual schools profiles as a baseline to help individual schools develop their own data led outcomes plans on a given priority using the Healthy School Enhancement Model.


HTML5 Double Map atlas showing Age Standardised Hospital admission rate per 100,000 population, Over 65 elective admissions. Source: SUS, ONS

How will you be taking interactive mapping to the next stage?

The Health & Social Care Maps project uses the functionality offered by the twin maps and the team is hoping to incorporate the scatterplot functionality. There is also a plan to use InstantAtlas to develop maps based on indicators around Children’s Centre level areas and another looking at indicators for elected member county council areas.

What benefits have you seen?

As well as helping to reduce workload, updating the data has become much more straightforward. We can just add a new column and put the data in. Flexibility is also a feature that is important for us and I have found the different templates and the ability to customise them particularly helpful. However, it is the end user who benefits most and this means being able to drill down, find data and view it in a format that makes it easy to understand.

Like this story? - see others below

NHS England - “Giving Clinical Commissioning Groups in England the information they need for strategic planning in an easy-to-access, easy-to-understand format”

Diabetes UK - “Helping people with Diabetes ensure they are getting appropriate levels of care with an interactive online mapping tool”


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