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The Growing State of Utah: A Proximity Analysis of Utah Residents to Medical Care Facilities

A map depicting proximity of Utah's population to medical care facilities at various distance intervals.

By Justin Sorensen

As population numbers in Utah continue to rise, the locations for providing quality medical care become essential. To visualize the current situation, this proximity analysis depicts the distance of Utah’s growing population to hospitals, clinics, and urgent care facilities throughout the state. #MapMonday

The Growing State of Utah: A Proximity Analysis of Utah Residents to Medical Care Facilities

During the past year, I have actively collaborated with researchers of the University of Utah’s School of Medicine. The goal of our project was to perform a series of proximity analyses depicting population availability to breast and cervical cancer medical facilities throughout both Ghana and The Gambia. The results of these analyses provided not only a visual representation of the current situation, but also a method for depicting potential case scenarios should new medical facilities be constructed or current service offerings be upgraded. As our research completed, I began pondering how the same analysis could be utilized on a local level and what the current situation for medical care availability looks like throughout Utah.

For this analysis, I began by plotting the locations for all hospitals, clinics, and urgent care facilities throughout Utah. Each of these locations were complimented by the creation of buffers extending outward at established distance intervals to visually depict the proximity to medical care facilities in each area. While the process identified areas of higher distance to established medical facilities, it failed to provide information on exact population numbers within each of the distance intervals. To identify this missing information, a new analysis came into play. Utilizing LandScan population data obtained through the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, I processed the dataset through ArcGIS Pro using a Zonal Statistics tool for each buffer, resulting in an exact population count within each distance interval.

What were the results of these analyses? For distance intervals, the established buffers found that the maximum distance an individual could be at any time from a Utah medical care facility was 100 miles. By combining this information with population counts at each distance interval, the results showed that the majority of our population (94.9562% or 3,035,296) are found within 0 to 5 miles of a medical care facility, with smaller percentages extending outward up to 95 miles.

Although this analysis could be further refined by replacing distance buffers with a drive-time analysis or by incorporating additional medical care facilities from the surrounding states, it demonstrates to viewers how proximity analysis can be utilized to derive service areas and the resulting impacts to populations at a local level.

Interested in creating or collaborating on a similar project? Please visit the GIS Services website to connect with me.

Happy Mapping!

Justin Sorensen | GIS Specialist
Creativity & Innovation Services / GIS Services

About Map Monday Releases from GIS Services

Throughout the semester, GIS Services will be releasing bi-weekly maps on a variety of topics, demonstrating ideas and uses for incorporating geospatial technology into projects and research you are developing. To view our collection of maps, projects, or to learn more about the geospatial services offered through the J. Willard Marriott Library, please visit the GIS Services website @

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