For healthcare around the world factors such as climate change, population growth and urban migration are placing ever greater stresses. With over half the world’s population now living in urban spaces and forecasted to be nearly 70% by 2050, cities are becoming the frontline in providing the future of healthcare. We have designed an index to compare the response and preparedness of cities to health challenges, focusing on their future readiness to meet the emerging healthcare needs of their populations. We have identified emerging trends concerning priority issues such as ageing populations, risk of pandemic and climate change. Therefore, encouraging innovation in healthcare provision to ensure it meets the needs of communities. We make use of methods from Design Thinking to determine how future-ready are cities to deliver healthcare, including how can this be measured and communicated to raise awareness of the effectiveness of healthcare. Achieving a globally representative design required adopting a ‘data as culture’ approach for city selection, while engaging with ‘subject matter experts’ for criteria selection for the index, and encouraging creativity in indicator selection for criteria. We determined a novel scalable approach for selecting cities, and engaged with dozens of subject matter experts to determine criteria for the future-readiness of healthcare. We then, through creative engagement with subject matter experts and designers, determined indicators with a degree of foresight for these criteria. Our index is designed to compare the future readiness to health challenges of cities around the world, and therefore how ready they will be to meet the future healthcare needs of their citizens. This includes considering how best to present the index to provide a constructive and insightful global comparison for policy makers, practitioners and researchers working in public health and healthcare innovation.