Dependencies in health and human services
When planning improvements in the public health arena, it’s important for cities to recognize dependencies between healthcare services and other city systems and services.
Clearly, public healthcare services rely heavily on a city’s public safety, communications and water systems. One example: The health of a city’s population is at risk if municipal water supplies are contaminated.
On the human services front, consider the dependencies between education and communications, energy systems and government administrative services. For instance, enhancing communications technologies and access to them can help conquer the “digital divide” that challenges low-income students. The same communications technologies can improve access to remote education services.
Benefits of health and human services
Before we examine this chapter’s targets in detail, consider how smart health and human services enhance livability, workability and sustainability.
Improving patient satisfaction. One of the primary benefits of remote delivery of heatlhcare services – or telemedicine – is increased patient satisfaction, especially for the elderly and mobility-challenged, but others too. Imagine if instead of taking time off work, making a trip to the doctor’s office and then sitting in a waiting room, you could transmit your health data on your own time, and your physician could review it with you via a video feed. Telemedicine eliminates much of the hassle associated with healthcare.
A prime example of how well telemedicine can work is the field of telepsychiatry. A psychiatrist is able, through video technology, to examine a patient in much the same way an office examination would take place. The psychiatrist can interview the patient, examine his or her overall appearance and check for symptoms of problems.
As beneficial as telemedicine can be, it must be noted that there remain barriers to its adoption – regulatory and insurance roadblocks among them.
Improving the delivery of health, education and other human services. City services are often under-utilized because those most in need of them may not know they are available, aren’t sure they qualify, or don’t know how to access them. An integrated, personalized citizen portal ensures easy, on-demand access to information people need.