Originally published on Tincture.
Imagine a Smart Health City. A city where health is ‘ built into the OS.’
This conceptual metropolis doesn’t exist all in one place— not just yet. For now it’s a patchwise place, a de-aggregated lab where emerging urban health innovations can be grafted onto digital and physical infrastructure, and multi-sector collaborators conspire to bring a growing evidence base to life.
A smart health city treats its resources — human, environmental, financial, and data — with respect and rationale; it stewards public funds efficiently and innovatively, and convenes private partnerships that pay for success. It learns from its peers. It’s a place where taxes and tax credits alike bolster the health of the community.
It understands and measures how city living shapes our behaviors and impacts our health, and the health of our children. It’s a place where nutrition strategy reflects real-world resources and the needs of the community. A smart health city harnesses tech to keep its air and water clean and safe for all.
It’s also a city that treats violence like a disease; that approaches family planning like a win-win opportunity; that drinks responsibly, smokes up sensibly, and fights the opioid epidemic with a mix of data, leadership, and compassion.
It’s a city that’s smart about the where and the how of building new officesand homes. It optimizes our public infrastructure for health and wellness, from sidewalks to highways. It invests in trees, for their benefits on our stress and anxiety as well protection from fire, heat, flooding, and pollution. It’s equipped to respond to storms, wet or wintry.
A smart health city is one where the healthcare systems are self-aware of their limitations and opportunities, as well as the local impact of their business behavior on the access, price, and quality of care in the community; where payers reach beyond their membership to improve the public’s health; where hospitals play well with one another, and with those outside the system. It’s a city with progressive primary health options for all of its citizens.
It’s the type of city that cares for the elderly, the disabled, and the vulnerable, treating them with respect and compassion. That harnesses state-level creativity and innovations to fund the social safety net, and enhances the daily lives of its people through smarter policymaking. It changes up the game when things don’t appear to be working.
It’s a city that understands that the ways it interfaces with citizens and businesses alike are too often a bottleneck to progress, instead of an opportunity to use human-centered design to unlock double or triple bottom lines.
Smart Health City is not a real place— but it’s happening, right now — in countless corners of the US, and all around the world.
What else might we imagine it doing?
What else should we push it to become?