Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from IJHG and BioMed Central.

Open Access Editorial

Web GIS in practice: an interactive geographical interface to English Primary Care Trust performance ratings for 2003 and 2004

Maged N Kamel Boulos

Author Affiliations

School for Health, University of Bath, Claverton Down, Bath BA2 7AY, UK

International Journal of Health Geographics 2004, 3:16  doi:10.1186/1476-072X-3-16

Published: 28 July 2004

Abstract

Background

On 21 July 2004, the Healthcare Commission http://www.healthcarecommission.org.uk/ webcite released its annual star ratings of the performance of NHS Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in England for the year ending March 2004. The Healthcare Commission started work on 1 April 2004, taking over all the functions of the former Commission for Health Improvement http://www.chi.nhs.uk/ webcite, which had released the corresponding PCT ratings for 2002/2003 in July 2003.

Results

We produced two Web-based interactive maps of PCT star ratings, one for 2003 and the other for 2004 http://healthcybermap.org/PCT/ratings/ webcite, with handy functions like map search (by PCT name or part of it). The maps feature a colour-blind friendly quadri-colour scheme to represent PCT star ratings. Clicking a PCT on any of the maps will display the detailed performance report of that PCT for the corresponding year.

Conclusion

Using our Web-based interactive maps, users can visually appreciate at a glance the distribution of PCT performance across England. They can visually compare the performance of different PCTs in the same year and also between 2003 and 2004 (by switching between the synchronised 'PCT Ratings 2003' and 'PCT Ratings 2004' themes). The performance of many PCTs has improved in 2004, whereas some PCTs achieved lower ratings in 2004 compared to 2003. Web-based interactive geographical interfaces offer an intuitive way of indexing, accessing, mining, and understanding large healthcare information sets describing geographically differentiated phenomena. By acting as an enhanced alternative or supplement to purely textual online interfaces, interactive Web maps can further empower organisations and decision makers.