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Course Details

Course Number: 90-834

Health Care Geographical Information Systems

Units: 12

Prerequisites: 90-728 Introduction to Database Management, 91-802 Information Systems for Managers or permission of instructor.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are computerized systems designed for the storage, retrieval and analysis of geographically referenced data. GIS maps all sorts of physical, biological, cultural, demographic, and economic data. The roots of GIS are in cartography and go back hundreds of years. GIS as we know it today began in the 1950s and 1960s and for many years was used primarily by government agencies and engineers.

Why are so many health care executives and public health professionals now seeing the benefits of managing their organizations through the use of GIS? The answer is quite simple: managing health care costs by efficiently meeting patient needs with available resources is an activity that is central to every health care organization. GIS provides an effective way to visualize, organize and manage a wide variety of information including administrative and medical data, social services, and patient data. Public health and medical research agencies are also using GIS to map health-related events, identify disease clusters, investigate environmental health problems, and understand the spread of communicable and infectious disease.

This course uses a unique approach for teaching GIS in health care. It imbeds learning how to use GIS software in the context of carrying out projects for visualizing and analyzing health-related data. Each week includes a lecture and computer lab that focuses on a health care issue which uses ArcView GIS from ESRI, Inc. to analyze data or solve a problem. Through weekly assignments and project case studies students will not only learn how to use the software but will also learn the many distinctive advantages of using GIS for health care policy making and planning.

By the end of the course, students will have sufficient background so that they can become expert users of GIS in health care organizations - building, managing, and using GIS maps and health related data.


90-728 Introduction to Database Management 6 Credits
91-802 Information Systems for Managers 12 Credits

Kristen S. Kurland