Carl Kinkade, geospatial information system specialist at the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control, uses GIS technology in a variety of ways at the federal agency. Asked about the uneven adoption of GIS in the health industry, he asserts that it boils down to a lack of leadership at local health systems. Even state health departments rarely use the technology to full capacity--in an integrated fashion across multiple departments. “Success often comes down to one person,” he says. “Is there a go-getter? If a group really shines, it’s often one person driving it.”

At Baystate Health, that one person has been Richard Wait, M.D., chairman of surgery at the Springfield, Mass.-based integrated delivery system. Wait spearheaded a GIS program in the late 1990s as part of an injury prevention effort in the trauma division. The program expanded, spawning a GIS department—which was housed in surgery. But Wait’s vision of an enterprise effort was sidelined when the GIS program was dissolved in 2008. “It was difficult to get everybody to buy in,” Wait says. “We met resistance.”

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