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Health Informatics J. 2011 Dec;17(4):277-93. doi: 10.1177/1460458211409806.

A spatial decision support tool for estimating population catchments to aid rural and remote health service allocation planning.

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Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada.


There is mounting pressure on healthcare planners to manage and contain costs. In rural regions, there is a particular need to rationalize health service allocation to ensure the best possible coverage for a dispersed population. Rural health administrators need to be able to quantify the population affected by their allocation decisions and, therefore, need the capacity to incorporate spatial analyses into their decision-making process. Spatial decision support systems (SDSS) can provide this capability. In this article, we combine geographical information systems (GIS) with a web-based graphical user interface (webGUI) in a SDSS tool that enables rural decision-makers charged with service allocation, to estimate population catchments around specific health services in rural and remote areas. Using this tool, health-care planners can model multiple scenarios to determine the optimal location for health services, as well as the number of people served in each instance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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