Health geomatics: an enabling suite of technologies in health and healthcare

J Biomed Inform. 2001 Jun;34(3):195-219. doi: 10.1006/jbin.2001.1015.


This Methodolical Review describes how health geomatics can improve our understanding of the important relationship between location and health, and thus assist us in Public Health tasks like disease prevention, and also in better healthcare service planning. The reader is first introduced to health geography and its two main divisions, disease ecology and healthcare delivery, followed by an overview of the basic concepts and principles of health geomatics. Topics covered include geographical information systems (GIS), GIS modeling, and GIS-related technologies (remote sensing and the global positioning system). We also present a number of real-life health geomatics applications and projects, with pointers to further studies and resources. Finally, we discuss the barriers facing the adoption of GIS technology in the health sector, including data availability/quality issues. The authors believe that we still need to combat many cultural and organizational barriers, including "spatial illiteracy" among healthcare workers, while making the tools cheaper and easier to learn and use, before health geomatics can become a mainstream technology in the health sector like today's spreadsheets and databases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Geography*
  • Information Management*
  • Medical Laboratory Science*