On November 29, 2019, more than 20 members from Nova Scotia Community Health Boards gathered in Dartmouth, NS to provide feedback on the Maritime Health Atlas, an online tool for mapping and exploring health data across the Maritime Provinces.
“We know that where people live makes a difference to their health. The Maritime Health Atlas provides an interactive way to explore the connections between geography and the health of Maritimers,” explains Dr. Daniel Rainham, Associate Professor and Lead of the Dalhousie University Geo-Health Research Unit.
Initially released in 2016, the Maritime Health Atlas is currently undergoing a renewal led by Dr. Rainham and Drs. Mikiko Terashima, Nathalie Saint-Jacques and George Kephart, with support from the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit (MSSU). As a part of the renewal process, the Maritime Health Atlas team is seeking feedback from a range of potential stakeholders.
Initial consultations were held in July with representatives from the Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness, the Nova Scotia Health Authority, the IWK Health Centre, as well as several non-governmental organizations and clinical research teams.
This consultation focused on gathering input from members of Nova Scotia’s Community Health Boards (CHBs). There are 37 CHBs, each providing an important mechanism for incorporating local perspectives and context into health systems planning. This made them a natural fit to discuss the next version of the Maritime Health Atlas.
After a brief overview of the MSSU, Dr. Daniel Rainham gave a demonstration of the current Maritime Health Atlas as well as some examples of similar tools being used in other places and contexts.
Participants formed breakout groups to complete three exercises. First, they were asked to discuss the ‘Who, What and Why.’ Who would use the Maritime Health Atlas? What would they want to do and why? Some groups mapped whole user journeys, tracking how a particular user group would use the tool and to what end; others tended to focus on one aspect.
For the second exercise, participants brainstormed a wish list outlining the features and functionality that they want to see in the Maritime Health Atlas. The feedback from the first two exercises was collated for a final exercise. Recognizing that time and money are limited, each participant was given $40 play dollars and had to use that money to vote for priority user groups and functions.
“It’s important to work with our stakeholders to understand how we can make the Maritime Health Atlas useful for them. The Community Health Board members are so engaged, and we’re lucky to be able to draw on their expertise and perspectives from across the province,” says Marina Hamilton, MSSU Director.
Members from 13 Community Health Boards attended the consultation, with representation from all four healthcare zones (Eastern, Northern, Central, and Western Zones).
“This consultation was a unique opportunity to bring together representatives from several Community Health Boards. We’re pleased to see so many perspectives considered in the design of the Maritime Health Atlas. The Atlas has great capability and future potential to inform the work of our CHB’s and their communities,” says Jonathan Dyer, Manager, Public Engagement & Community Health Board Support, Nova Scotia Health Authority.
Over the coming weeks, the MSSU will report back members of the CHBs to share the findings from the consultation.