U.S. Healthcare Quality & Cost Visualization

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Tech Report HCIL Tech Report of the project

Project Sponsor: Todd Park, Chief Technology Officer, Department of Health and Human Services

Team Members

Sohit Karol, sohitkarol at gmail

Jin Na Lee, ginnah at umd

Angela Noh, angela at cs.umd

Paul Rosenfeld, prosenf1 at umd

Awalin Sopan, awalin at cs dot umd dot edu

Project Description

As the health care debate raged on in Congress, there are sectors of the American public that appear to be somewhat misinformed about healthcare. The cost of coverage is exploding for both individuals and businesses, but quality and effectiveness of care is not necessarily following suit. This is further complicated by the fact that costs are rising in some places much faster than others.

The Department of Health and Human Services is interested in employing visualization to try to attack both of these problems at once. The primary goals of the visualization tool are:

  • Allow the average citizen to visualize health performance, quality, and cost indicators for his/her town
  • Allow the average citizen to compare his/her town to other towns in the United States or in their region in key performance/cost indicators
  • Spur mayors/citizens to take action to improve the quality and costs of healthcare (the mayor of McAllen, TX apparently was unaware that his town had the worst healthcare performance in the whole U.S.)



Existing tools

  • HHS Hospital Compare - A tool from HHS that allows people to compare the quality of care at virtually every hospital in the U.S. The data is both searchable and downloadable.
  • Dartmouth Atlas - A website by the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy & Clinical Practice which provides several tools to look at health indicators and costs. Also features an interactive map
  • Differences in Costs and Care - New York Times visualization that provides a more in depth map than the Dartmouth Atlas Map, but still falls short of what we hope to achieve in our project.
  • NH Resident Inpatient Discharges for Unintentional Injury by Mechanism, County, and Year, 2000 to 2004 - Another Atlas tool regarding with health related data that provides an analytic tool by map, tables, time-series and bar charts. If you click on a double map report right at the bottom, you can easily compare the multiple selections by multiple variables.

Peer Reviewed References

  • Elizabeth A. McGlynn and Robert H. Brook Keeping Quality On The Policy Agenda Health Affairs, May/June 2001; 20(3): 82-90.
    • Discusses major flaws with the quality of health care in the United States and the lack of policy response to fix these problems. Very relevant to this project since people regard the U.S. as having the best health care in the world when in fact the WHO ranks the US #72 in the world.
  • Wei Yu, Diane Cowper, Magdalena Berger, Mark Kuebeler, Joe Kubal and Larry Manheim GIS to Profile Health-Care Costs of VA Quality-Enhancement Research Initiative Diseases Journal of Medical Systems Volume 28, Number 3 / June, 2004. pp 257-269
    • Discusses how the Veteran's Association used GIS as a tool to try to help guide policy on how to distribute funds in order to meet the needs of veterans. Also looked for discrepancies in the cost in different regions of the country.
  • Matthias Kreuseler, Norma Lopez, Heidrun Schumann A Scalable Framework for Information VisualizationInformation Visualization, IEEE Symposium on, pp. 27, 2000 IEEE Symposium on Information Vizualization (InfoVis 2000), 2000.
    • Health data is so complicated and unstructured heterogeneous information. This paper deals with the problems of supporting a variety of exploration tasks and gives an innovative solution about it.