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Case Study: Health Care Demographics

For the Hartford Mutual and Metropolitan Life Insurance Companies, Nautilus Systems conducted a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and data mining study to evaluate the distribution of primary health care physicians to patients in a predominantly rural area. The study resulted in substantiation for community-based preventive medicine and centrally organized patient information.


The Northern New England Health Informatics Initiative (NEHII) is a means to accomplish the useful integration of information into the practice of medicine. Within this initiative, the C. Everett Koop Foundation funded this study, the "Northern New England Health Informatics Initiative Business Plan".

Using its proprietary data mining techniques, Nautilus Systems extracted and refined data from a wide variety of database sources, including data provided by Hartford Mutual Insurance and Metropolitan Life, external data purchased from Business Location Resource, Healthdemographics, Woods and Poole Economics, ZIPBase Plus, Claritas, Qualitative Marketing Software, Inc., Spatial Insights, Inc., CompuSearch, NPA Data Services, American Business Information, and the U.S. Census.

Nautilus electronically identified and verified all potential patients within the target survey area by cross checking phone numbers, address, and county tax accessors records. The mined data were further analyzed, and the environmental, health care, geographic demographics were plotted. The survey subjects, primary care facilities, physician offices, and emergency support facilities were geocoded and mapped. Statistical distribution studies were also compiled.

The study determined that there was one physician for every ten patients within the geographic area under analysis. Looking only at the tabular data, this ratio seems very impressive, however, the true distribution picture is different when the data are presented on a map. The map image seen was the "donut effect", the patients were on the outer perimeter and the physicians in the center. The average distance to a primary health care facility was 75 miles.

Upon completion and review of this study, primary care physicians and the insurance companies developed cooperative wellness plans to provide proactive medical care and reduce insurance costs.


By understanding the geographics of the patient community with respect to the primary care providers, physicians and insurance companies had substantiation for establishing a wellness plan supporting community preventative medicine, centrally organized patient information and consultation services, and community health fairs. This study supports the NEHII premise that community-based health services provided in partnership with primary care physicians will decrease medical costs significantly.

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