The gradual adoption of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the healthcare industry has given rise to the practically universalized implementation of digital health records. More recently it has also led to the appearance of new medical services that can be accessed on mobile devices, comprising what is known as electronic health or e-health. The concept of e-health has emerged at the same time as the concept of smart cities, which also aims to universally introduce the use of ICT in cities in order to improve residents’ quality of life, taking into consideration different indicators like sustainability, energy consumption, mobility, health, government, etc.
Smart cities make extensive use of all kinds of sensors that provide information such as temperature, humidity, pollution, concentration of allergens, traffic, etc. This information constitutes what can be called the “context” of the city that helps one understand the environment in which residents carry out their daily activities.
If this information is used appropriately, health applications can be developed that adapt their behavior to this context, giving rise to the concept of smart health as the result of the synergy between existing e-health applications and the information that can be provided by a smart city. A simple example would be a patient receiving information on their mobile device regarding concentrations of pollen and other elements in the city that they are allergic to, recommending that they take a route avoiding the worst areas, as well as indicating nearby pharmacies where they can buy the medicine they need. In addition, the application would be able to continuously monitor their vital signs and generate alarms for them to seek immediate medical attention where appropriate.
The development and universalization of the concept of smart health would be beneficial for society as a whole. Given the aging population and high healthcare system costs, for both the public and private systems, e-health applications would improve quality of life and make patients and residents in general less dependent on in-person medical services, thereby reducing visits to hospitals and making many medical services cheaper.
To do this, multidisciplinary research clearly must be carried out – and large companies in the technology sector, like IBM and Intel as well as different research centers around the world are already doing so – in fields such as sensory data integration, data security, mass data storage logistics, and analysis, psychology, adoption of new technology by residents, critical incident management, etc.