(Courtesy: Dallas County)

Public Health

The Nonprofit Mapping COVID-19 in Dallas

How PCCI's data analytics is guiding clinicians and identifying risk.

This week, County Judge Clay Jenkins tweeted out a map showing the concentration of positive COVID-19 diagnoses across Dallas ZIP codes, revealing that Highland Park, East Dallas, and Preston Hollow have the most cases so far.

Data science nonprofit Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation has played an integral part in analyzing the data behind these diagnoses on a local level, guiding the providers who are screening, testing, and treating patients as the virus spreads.

PCCI is working with Dallas County Health and Human Services to guide those on the front line and enhance the decisions are being made in a couple different ways. By analyzing the data mined from positive COVID-19 cases such as travel, work, and other behaviors, they can give block by block guidance to providers as they screen and test new patients.

Their data is paying dividends in a couple important ways. Using geocoding, PCCI is able to map the patients and create a proximity risk score for patients, analyzing where cases are so that those triaging and caring for patients can be better informed about potential risk. Understanding where cases are and how many are in certain areas, they can determine how likely a patient is to have interacted with someone who has been confirmed to have the disease.

In addition, PCCI is helping to guide the public health authorities in real time figure out what the capacity needs will be for hospitals and make projections about how to handle and juggle the patients. As the numbers grow, expanding capacity will become essential. In New York, where the spread is more advanced, hospitals are being asked to expand their bed capacity by 50 percent. Estimations are that 40,000 intensive care unit beds will be necessary, but only 3,000 exist in the city now.

“We are complementing the clinical manifestation and decision-making that is already happening,” says PCCI President and CEO Steve Miff.

Looking ahead, Miff says he wants to make sure other counties have access to their data analytics, but also knows that the work PCCI does to connect providers with other services to improve patients’ social determinants of health is more important now than ever. As services change, providers add capacity, and needs are shifted, PCCI’s connectivity software will help patients navigate through the system, addressing health, food, transportation, housing and other needs. “We want to be very vigilant,” Miff says. “We can direct patients to those who have resources and meet the needs of those individuals.”

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