The logic that one way to ease pressure on healthcare services is to prevent more people getting ill underpins a piloting of new health and wellness projects in Dublin city.
The State’s “health” policy could be more accurately described as a “sickness” policy, says Jack Lehane, ecosystem manager with Smart D8, as much of the €20 billion-plus budget is spent on treating illness.“There is an idea that you can engage populations at scale and limit the number of people who end up getting sick in the first place. Maybe we could use our resources a little more ‘smartly’. Maybe we don’t need bigger hospitals; we just need fewer people getting sick.”Jack Lehane.
D8is one of the Smart Dublin districts that are looking to fast-track technological innovations to solve local social challenges, with an eye on potential for scaling up citywide, or even nationally and internationally.Working on a catchment area of 43,000people that encompasses neighbourhoods such as the Liberties, Kilmainham and Rialto, as well as St James’s Hospital and St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Smart D8 is focusing on health initiatives.
A 2020 survey of 250 local residents found 31 per cent had long-standing health problems; 27 per cent had accessed mental health service supports in the previous two years; and 21 per cent had unmet health needs due to waiting lists. Smart D8 is a 12-partner consortium led by, among others, Dublin City Council and the Digital Hub, and incorporates academia, public sector, private enterprise and civil society.