SONGPA, REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Songpa is a district located in the southeast of Seoul, with a population of more than 680,000. The district had a mortality rate of 66.9 per 100,000 persons from circulatory system diseases in 2010. As its residents aged, the district expected a surge of mortalities from chronic diseases as well as healthcare expenses. Notably, the medical expense for hypertension (high blood pressure) in Songpa increased by 549% from 2006 to 2010, while the data of Seoul was 446%. To counter this trend, Songpa implemented the Smart Doctor, making the district’s prevention and control of hypertension a priority.
The purpose of this project is to establish an ICT-based public service system for health management. As Korea’s medical law forbids tele-health services, the initiative focuses on health monitoring instead of medical treatment. It has witnessed the construction of 50 “smart health care zones”, unmanned mobile kiosks where users can measure their weight, body composition, blood pressure, etc. The city relies on the “health leaders” and “health sheriffs” selected from the community to operate the project, including running publicity campaigns, monitoring the operation, and gathering community feedback.
The district has been adding new features to the system based on new technologies. A mobile application was developed in 2014, and in 2016, big data analysis was introduced to the system, enabling health information analysis to inform public health projects. In the future, the district will also combine it with others systems and devices.
Smart Doctor has been selected by the Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare as an exemplary model initiative. Currently, the system has nearly 80,000 registered users. The initiative is part of the district's non-contact health management strategy. It is especially helpful to communities with limited access to public health agencies. It also has huge potential in tele-health, the restrictions of which may ease in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is highly relevant to SDGs 3 (good health and wellbeing), 10 (reduced inequalities), and 11 (sustainable cities and communities).