Online Mapping Tool Guides Community Health Center Planners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, August 26, 2010

Contact: Leslie Champlin, American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 5224; lchampli@aafp.org

 

WASHINGTON — Nearly 1,100 researchers, health care policy makers and primary care organizations are taking advantage of the UDS Mapper(www.udsmapper.org), a new tool to identify the reach of Section 330-funded health center services and the specific ZIP Codes where patients struggle to gain access to health services. The tool is available to anyone interested in health care policy, geographic distribution of health care resources to the underserved, and other issues that affect people’s access to health services.

“Using the UDS Mapper, we can identify areas served by community health centers, the change in the number of people who receive those services over time, and an estimate of people who are not receiving services,” said Robert Phillips, MD, director of the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care, where the UDS Mapper was developed with funding from and in collaboration with the Health Resources Services Administration. The mapper is based on algorithms developed by John Snow, Inc.

More than 1,200 Section 330-funded health center organizations provide health care to uninsured and low-income communities in more than 8,000 service sites. Expanded during the Bush Administration, Section 330 funding also grew by $2.5 billion under President Obama’s 2011 budget. In addition, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided $1.5 billion to modernize, renovate and repair health centers, and improve their health information technology. An additional $500 million was allocated to establish 127 new community health centers and increase services at more than 1,100 existing sites.

“As we build up community health centers, policy makers and community health center officials need accurate information about the populations they serve, how well they meet that population’s needs and whether there are areas of the country that still have little or no access to health care,” said Phillips, “UDS Mapper provides that information on a ZIP Code-specific scale.”

The Robert Graham Center launched the UDS Mapper this year as part of its HealthLandscape(www.healthlandscape.org) platform. An online tool, the UDS Mapper combines socioeconomic and demographic information from the U.S. Census with several other data sources, including areas designated as medically underserved or health professions shortage areas; the locations of hospitals, health centers that receive grants from Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act; and other federally supported health programs such as rural health centers. The information results in a map that compares Section 330-funded health centers to the community and population, then shows spatial relationships between the program, the community attributes and other resources.

“UDS Mapper is an ideal tool to begin research into the reach of community health center services,” said Phillips. “The data provided are particularly important, given the continuing increases in uninsured Americans and the expansion of community health centers to meet that growing need. Instead of planning health center expansion on educated estimates, we now have a tool that can more clearly identify areas in need.”

Access to the UDS mapper is available through a link on the Robert Graham Center home page(www.graham-center.org) or directly at http://www.udsmapper.org(www.udsmapper.org). Registration is free. Personalized Webinars on using the tool and an online tutorial are available.

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The Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Primary Care and Family Medicine conducts research and analysis that brings a family practice perspective to health policy deliberations in Washington. Founded in 1999, the center is an independent research unit working under the personnel and financial policies of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The information and opinions contained in research from the Graham Center do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the AAFP.

August 26, 2010