Smarter healthcare in smart cities

Innovations in IoT help with preventative medicine and management of chronic conditions.

Smart city initiatives are underway all over the world, and the global smart city market is forecast to double in value by 2020 to $1.4 trillion. The goal of smart cities is to improve urban infrastructure while reducing costs, to foster innovation in various sectors and to enhance the quality of life of citizens. This includes smart healthcare, which Frost & Sullivan predicts will make up almost 15 percent of all smart city business by 2020.

What does smart healthcare involve?

Smart healthcare uses the latest mobile and digital technologies to make advances in eHealth and mHealth systems while also driving the growth of intelligent and connected medical devices. There is a philosophical change to smart healthcare too, with initiatives designed to encourage a broader view of health and wellbeing in citizens using technology for health monitoring and diagnostics to pre-empt treatment.

IoT technologies are central to the healthcare revolution. Remote patient monitoring with sensors can, as one example, detect blood and glucose levels in patients, and send the resulting data to doctors for analysis and prognosis. Healthcare professionals can analyze all of the data collected by sensors to prescribe highly personalized treatments and medications for patients. You may even be able to 3D print your pill to take at home with no interference at all to your day-to-day routine.

“Healthcare is a natural fit for IoT technologies and smart city philosophy,” said Fadi Shanaah, Director Business Development for Smart City and Healthcare at Orange Business MENAT. “Connected devices and wearable technology encourage individuals to do things independently, and by linking people’s monitoring of their own health to remotely-based healthcare professionals who can advise them, the whole process becomes more streamlined, more cost-effective and ultimately more convenient for the patient.”

Connectivity and data enabling transformation.

The connectivity that provides the foundation of smart city services will be the enabler of this approach to healthcare. Citizens are more able to communicate with authorities and vice versa, and the always-on engaging nature of smart city technology means that authorities can gather more data than ever about citizens’ health and wellbeing. This data can then be used to inform further city and service planning that makes public healthcare a priority. Medical data is private and sensitive, so patient privacy remains a key concern. Data anonymization applied to each patient’s records is a way to give the requisite confidentiality without sacrificing data utility.

The data can also be used to drive innovation and improve collaboration, again to the benefit of healthcare provision in a smart city. By making health data accessible to more parties – albeit while ensuring patient confidentiality – new improvements in healthcare can be had, by sharing new medical learnings between healthcare professionals around the world.

In addition, information sharing via the network can also benefit individual citizens; smart cities can be equipped with sensors on lamp posts and other street furniture to monitor pollution and pollen levels, enabling people to make more informed decisions relating to their health.

New thinking, new healthcare offerings.

“In my home city of Dubai, new initiatives are underway to make it a hub of healthcare tourism, such as the Dubai Health Experience, the world’s first comprehensive electronic medical tourism portal,” adds Fadi Shanaah. Dubai is expecting to see 1.3 million medical tourists by 2021 at a growth rate of 13 per cent over the next 5 years.

"At Orange, we are positioning ourselves to provide digital hospital solutions and to offer tools that connect up clinical and non-clinical systems like administration and patient account details. This helps bring all that healthcare data together in one single place and enable the delivery of different solutions from both the patient and non-patient perspective,” Fadi Shanaah continued.

Smart city technologies are set to make healthcare a more measurable process, with tangible results and with a service that is more relevant to the lifestyle of the modern citizen. Ongoing innovation and improved data analysis will also help make it an area of continuous improvement that will continue to invent new ways of keeping people fitter and healthier.

To read more about smart cities, IoT and healthcare here.