Planning accessible health services with GIS tools

North London Health and Care Partners Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) wanted to evaluate their Out of Hours hub provision across their five constituent CCGs. Data needed to show how patients used the five hubs, in terms of geography, travel time, and which sites were in best placed to serve the largest number of people. Although they had detailed patient appointment and location data, they did not have the means to visualise and analyse it geographically over time. Most importantly, they wanted to know how long it took patients to travel to the sites and how accessible they would be for local people if services changed.

Our Specialist Business Intelligence team combined a range of methods and techniques to meet the challenge. Postcodes of more than 34,000 individual appointments were mapped and visualised using specialist Geographical Information System (GIS) techniques. This included producing ‘percent volume contours’ of activity, which made it easy to understand and evaluate service areas and patient movements over a year.

We used TRACC travel time software to calculate origin to destination public transport travel times for evening and weekend opening hours, for any combination of travel modes: bus, tube and train. Times included transfers and walking times to and from stops and stations.

We quantified patient usage of the hubs in time bands and showed overall population coverage. Alternative placements of hubs were analysed, so they could predict the impact on patient access .so any future changes on patient access could be assessed and modelled. We also used analysis of alternative hub placements to predict the impact on patient accessibility, to help plan further changes.

Finally, we identified the optimal configuration of sites, weighted by population coverage and need. This specialist analytical technique can work out the lowest total travel time for any combination of origins to destinations.

Our analysis meant that North London Health and Care Partners STP better understood how services were utilised by patients, how service catchments overlapped, and how accessible they were to local populations. They are now able to plan future service locations to be accessible to as many people as possible.