Gaps in Health Care Safety Net Identifiable Thanks to Graham Center Mapper Program

August 27, 2013 05:30 pm News Staff

The AAFP's Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care has launched a revamped and expanded version of its online Uniform Data System (UDS) Mapper application(, which gives users the ability to identify gaps in the health care safety net and pinpoint geographical areas that would benefit from the addition or expansion of community health centers.

[Map of US, Alaska and Hawaii sectioned by color]

In 2010, the Graham Center worked with the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and a health research firm to develop and launch the original UDS Mapper site as part of its HealthLandscape platform( The program allowed users to create maps and tables that described the distribution of health services, identified at-risk populations and obtained health outcomes. The Mapper also allowed users to look at how many primary care professionals were available in an area and the locations of those professionals.

Now, the Graham Center has expanded the UDS Mapper to allow users to identify demographic and socioeconomic factors that could hinder access to health care and to identify populations who qualify for health care insurance provided by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The revamped UDS Mapper also aids in determining which geographic areas are most in need of community health centers, according to a Robert Graham Center press release(

"As we approach insurance expansion under the Affordable Care Act, health care planners need information that shows not only insurance coverage, but also the current landscape and utilization gaps (in) the primary care safety net in order to ensure expanded access to care," said Andrew Bazemore, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Graham Center in the press release.

The UDS Mapper, which is funded by HRSA, looks at information from a variety of sources, including data from federally funded health center program grantees and similar programs, socioeconomic and demographic information from the U.S. Census, and data on medically underserved or health professional shortage areas and federally supported health programs. The information results in a map that allows users to compare patient data derived from these sources to patient data for the community and population. It also shows spatial relationships between the program, community attributes and other resources.

The revamped tool allows users to create maps and tables describing areas served by community health centers, gaps in the health care safety net, and neighborhoods or regions most in need of community health care expansions.

"As state and local health officials implement the health insurance marketplaces or expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, they'll need information about their constituents who need services," said Jennifer Rankin, Ph.D., project director for the UDS Mapper. "This free online site allows them to get information, for example, about people who don't have insurance and/or access to health center program grantees or look-alikes.

"This is particularly important as state and local health policymakers implement their state insurance marketplaces and Medicaid expansions. They need to know where people need information and coverage, and the new UDS Mapper program provides that information. It will allow them to see pockets of people who are eligible for expanded Medicaid coverage or, in states that are not expanding Medicaid, people who would be eligible for a subsidy in the insurance marketplace."