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Background and aims

Smart Health Communities (SHC) is a concept that was developed through a series of interviews with leaders of prevention and well-being initiatives led by The Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions and the Deloitte Centre for Government Insights. 

SHCs have a focus on disease prevention through the use of data surveillance and concepts of behavioural science, helping to change health risk behaviours which ultimately lead to poorer health outcomes (e.g. smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise). 


The five core features of a smart health community are:

  • Foster a sense of community and belonging: Sharing goals and outcome data with peers, for example, can help motivate some individuals to continue with diet and exercise regimens despite feeling like giving up. 
  • Incorporate digital technology: The use of technologies such as mobile apps, fitness trackers, and GPS-enabled devices is a key function of advanced SHCs.
  • Use data to improve health outcomes: As technology makes data collection and data sharing easier and cheaper, many SHCs are using the information to build models that predict risk.
  • Enable new and innovative ecosystems: Enabling new and innovative ecosystems of public and private entities is another essential element of SHCs. 

These communities also aim to address health inequalities faced by people with mental illness, with these individuals being at higher risk of chronic health conditions (e.g. obesity, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes). 

General psychological wellbeing can also be improved through increased social interconnectivity, helping reduce anxiety and improving happiness. SHCs are enabled by digital technology and behavioural science.

This concept helps answer the call towards virtual means of care as digital tools and resources are accessible to all through the use of smart phones, including those from low income communities. Communities can also extend to include face-to-face contact.

Outcomes and benefits

The main outcomes of SHCs are:

  • Empowers proactive health and well-being management
  • Fosters community building and wellness
  • Enables digital health tools and behavioural science
  • Ensures affordable health for all
  • Makes meaningful use of data analytics to improve outcomes
  • Enables an innovative healthcare ecosystem

Additional information

You can find out more about Smart Health Communities on the Deloitte article page.

Example of an SHC:

  • Weight Watchers International – This is an example of a virtual SHC which is accessible to all.  It focuses on weight loss, health and wellness.  The SHC encourages and empowers people to eat healthy via mobile app and users can receive support/personalised information.

Innovations using the SHC concept:

  • Imperial College London  – This innovation uses DNA to consider a person's predisposition to developing chronic health conditions and ‘nudges’ people towards making healthier choices. You can find out more by accessing the DNA Nudge website.
  • There is more information about further innovations published on the Imperial College London webpage.  

The aim of the ZSA Case Studies is to introduce users to a range of examples of new and innovative practice, with the broad aim of working to support people with their mental health, bring awareness to and help prevent incidence of suicide. Please seek further information by contacting the ZSA and appropriate professional input prior to making a decision over its use.

This content was developed based on information within the public domain. If you would like to update this content, contact us

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Content last updated: 25/11/2022.

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