“Mapping local health data to help regional bodies, health professionals and the public make better decisions about health policy and healthcare”

French regional health observatories were set up to help monitor the state of health at regional level and also to inform regional bodies responsible for decisions on health policy, health professionals and the public. Observatories exist in all French regions and are grouped together in a national federation, the FNORS (National Federation of Regional Health Observatories), headquartered in Paris. We spoke to Francois Tuffreau, directeur adjoint, Observatoire Régional de la Santé des Pays de la Loire about how it is using data visualisation to meet its objectives.

When did you first come across InstantAtlas?

I was working in a regional health observatory that had links with a public health observatory in England which had been using mapping software so I knew how it could be used to present large amounts of data from several different sources. When we came to making a choice we made a comparison between InstantAtlas and other mapping software, but we decided that on price and ease of use it was the best solution. It was very important for us that the tool could be used by a range of people including those without GIS knowledge such as GPs.

How were you planning to use mapping software at the Observatoire Régional?

We wanted to build a new website that would improve on the existing one. We have access data by department or region, but we were not presenting decision makers and the public with local data. So we felt that by mapping data at this level it would help us meet our objectives.


Why is mapping local data helpful?

We have all the same problems as other countries when it comes to wider determinants of health and the need to improve the way healthcare is delivered. This means that everyone responsible for making decisions about health needs to have information at a local level. So for instance we are able to present mortality data to help identify where it may be higher in one area than another.

Our website now maps the 57 local health jurisdictions (TSP) defined by the Regional Health Agency (ARS) to fifty indicators grouped into seven groups: demographics, population health, health issues, determinants of health, course of care, support for the elderly and disabled.

How has this local information been received?

We have only just launched the website but it is already proving to be a good way for the observatory to show people they can access local data if they want. Everyone in the observatory knows how to use it and in a few months we plan to start training people such as GP and other physicians working in hospitals as well as people working in regional health agencies.

What are the benefits of using InstantAtlas?

  • We can now present local health data for a wide range of users
  • Our website has been updated and is now interactive which means we don’t only rely on spreadsheets
  • We are meeting our main objective of informing regional bodies responsible for decisions on health policy, health professionals and the public


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