Today’s New York Times has a story on regional variation in the availability and cost of health care. The story is accompanied by a “multimedia interactive graphic” — that is, a Flash visualization that charts the following variables on a U.S. map:
- Acute care
- Surgery Rates
- Heart bypass
- Knee replacement
For each mapped variable, mousing over the displayed hospital referral regions yields the local, state, and national values for that variable.
It’s nicely done. There’s no question that, as of mid-2007, this is cutting-edge data interactivity for the mainstream. But times are changing fast. The Times sourced this data from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. It took me five minutes to download the surgical data, upload it to Dabble DB, and publish a similar map along with a complete tabular dump.
Of course I cheated by aggregating only to the state level, which Dabble DB can do easily, rather than to the level of hospital referral regions. And I left out the national averages. But still, it’s striking to see what can be accomplished in a few minutes with no programming.
It’s even more striking to see what you can do directly on the Dartmouth site. Suppose you were thinking about having a knee replacement done in Keene, NH, and you wondered how many of these procedures are done at the Keene hospital, at other hospitals around the state, and in Boston and New York. Here’s the answer:
|Knee Replacement per 1,000 Medicare Enrollees
HSA Level Rates (2003)
|*Keene , NH||8,047||5.07||–||–|
|Laconia , NH||8,116||8.60||1.70||29|
|Concord , NH||13,428||8.49||1.68||46|
|Lebanon , NH||9,483||6.73||1.33||16|
|State: New Hampshire||148,431||6.54||1.29||218|
|Manchester , NH||20,748||6.32||1.25||26|
|Rochester , NH||5,806||6.25||1.23||7|
|Nashua , NH||16,706||6.16||1.22||18|
|Dover , NH||8,462||5.16||1.02||1|
|Exeter , NH||10,624||4.96||0.98||-1|
|Boston , MA||67,651||4.90||0.97||-11|
|Manhattan , NY||166,112||3.32||0.66||-290|
Wow! Hats off to the team at the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care. This is the sort of thing that will change expectations about what interactive data ought to mean.