Improve community and population health through design

How can design change our communities and improve the health of our population at the same time? This sentiment is not something that all of us have been thinking about because of the global pandemic, but it has been an area of ??concern for decades.Nevertheless, as in the first installation of this Blog In the series, COVID-19 is an accelerator and catalyst for change. So, can we become a different generation?

Looking at the overall situation of our community, we can see a variety of problems, such as food deserts that cause malnutrition, lack of affordable housing, and disproportionate access to medical services-in addition to increased addiction, behavioral health Increasing demand and sedentary lifestyle-driving unhealthy people in the crowd. As pointed out by multiple studies and in 2017 Paper “Social Determinants of Health Care 101: Five Plus Five”, at the National Academy of Medicine in the United States, we should go beyond the walls of hospitals and seek to improve our health.

Last year, people paid a lot of attention to COVID-19, and this is a matter of course. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Report, “Temporary Mortality Data-United States, 2020” pointed out that of the total number of deaths in the United States last year, 690,000 people died of heart disease, 598,000 people died of cancer, and 345,000 people were related to COVID-19.According to research Ultimate health, Of the more than 1.3 million COVID-19 claims, 76% of them were exacerbated by comorbidities. We can deduce that the number less than 345,000 is a direct result of the COVID-19 virus. However, it has changed our lives forever. As a society, we must work hard to eliminate other diseases and conditions that cause the cost of health care to rise and put the United States far on the list. How much impact can we have? High-quality health results?

according to CDC In the “Health and Economic Costs of Chronic Diseases” study, the main chronic diseases that affect the health of our community include heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and even tooth decay. Many of the top eight identified in the report are considered preventable. As a society, we must transform to be responsible for our own health and focus our resources wherever possible to have the greatest impact. As designers, we can help them see the social benefits of investing in community health by encouraging those who use the buildings and places we design to adopt better health behaviors and guiding customers to make choices, thereby making a positive impact.

The first task is to create a purposeful movement. As designers, we can orchestrate physical responses to encourage exercise by placing programs and design spaces.A sort of Paper published in American Journal of Epidemiology Citing 30 minutes of activity a day instead of sitting will help a person live a longer and healthier life by 17%.according to learn According to a survey conducted by the National Institutes of Health, people in communities that encourage walking and cycling in daily activities have better overall health conditions than communities that require motorized transportation. The designer’s response should be to do more to create solutions, encourage exercise and connect spaces and programs in a way that users can experience health and happiness.

Furthermore, what if all our main needs can be met within 15 minutes of walking, cycling or taking public transportation? It is not to isolate different communities or activity areas, but to combine economic and social functions to form a more compact urban footprint, thereby promoting the establishment of a more connected and vibrant community. For health care, this is similar to a wider, decentralized community health network, rather than a hospital. In the article “The 15-Minute City-No Car-is the New Utopia of Urban Planning”, BloombergCarlos Moreno, the mayor’s special envoy for smart city development in Paris, said that the idea of ??the “15-minute city” is mainly to reduce carbon emissions, but he hopes to build Paris into a “neighboring city” where life can be gathered on warm and safe streets and squares. one class.

Although more sustainable communities are good for the planet, it also affects population health.The World Health Organization calculated twenty four% The death toll in the world comes from environmental-related issues, such as climate change, which affects the ability of communities to obtain clean air, safe drinking water, food and shelter. Looking for strategies to demonstrate environmental management, creating renewable and ecologically responsive solutions that can clean air, sequester carbon, or produce energy, are ways to protect the environment while making communities healthier.

It is clearer than ever that we need to work together to help build stronger and healthier communities.

Jim Henry, AIA, NCARB, is Senior Vice President, Director of Health Calison RTKL. He can be in [email protected]. In this series, he will explore how accelerating change can quickly shape our healthcare system, built environment, and safety and health design thinking.


Read past installments here:

Accelerate change: be open to new ideas

Use telemedicine to increase access to healthcare

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