Remote delivery of health services (as you’ll read about in case studies later in this chapter) makes it possible for a patient to receive advice and treatment from a doctor without having to leave home or work. And the doctor can assess and treat conditions in real time and with maximum efficiency. This is one example of how smart cities use ICT to improve health – reaching more people in less time and using fewer resources without compromising the quality of health outcomes.
Here’s another: Health care providers are rapidly ditching paper-based patient medical records for electronic health records (EHRs). A doctor enters the exam room, chats with the patient and conducts an exam. The doctor then turns to a keyboard to enter data into fields on a computer screen. The patient’s health profile gets electronically updated right then and there.
There’s a big upside to having this digital version of a person’s medical history. It makes their diagnoses, lab tests, allergies, current prescriptions and other bits of health information easy to share and manage. It allows for coordination of their care between clinicians. It helps control the administrative cost of delivering care. All of these are essentials in smart healthcare and certainly in smart cities that are proactive about enhancing livability for their residents.
Additionally, natural user interfaces and analytics can “learn” about a patient’s health history and suggest tailored and specific medical interventions.
There’s also the convenience factor. A mother gets a text on her smartphone that it’s time for her child’s vaccination; she can make the appointment on her phone or on a web portal. In so many ways, information can be a powerful tool in healthcare – and ICT can help get it to the people who need it, when they need it.
- Human services refer to a broad spectrum of easily accessed services that help people live better lives. These include services to help people deal with substance abuse, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS, disabilities, nutrition challenges and physical fitness. It includes helping the homeless find beds to sleep in and dysfunctional families find counseling.
While it is common for cities to treat health and human services separately, smart cities integrate a client’s human services history into their health portfolio for better outcomes and greater efficiency.
- Education and skill development are a priority in a smart city. They provide opportunities for all ages and all levels, ranging from toddler story hours at the public library to computer classes at the senior center. K-12 education, workforce training programs and higher education are all essential. But today education is mostly stuck in the physical world. With the right deployment of ICT, cities can revolutionize the connection between student and teacher, school and learning.