Despite billions invested in medical technology innovations, health disparities remain in the US, and the country continues to bear the burden of chronic disease and high rates of death that were avoidable. However, a new report suggests that these gaps can be narrowed by focusing on creating equitable access, use, and continued engagement with health technology.
The report (PDF) – “The Path to Equity: An Introduction to Key Issues Impacting the Equitable Design and Deployment of the US Healthcare System,” identifies ways the technology could revolutionize health care, but warns that it “also carries the risk” of inadvertently exacerbating long-standing inequalities among economically and socially marginalized communities and groups.
The report, intended to serve as a “call to action” for industry organizations and leaders, was produced by Ipsos, a global healthcare market research and advisory firm, and the HLTH Foundation, a non-profit organization that Promotes equity, inclusion and opportunity. Health care.
Alexis Anderson, an Ipsos principal and lead author of the report, and Janna Guinon, executive director of HLTH, discussed the report and defined its terms in an interview posted on the website of the In Full Health Learning and Action community, which supports the industry. attaches. and encourages digital solutions that meet the needs of historically marginalized communities while ensuring that new tools do not inadvertently embed bias.
Anyone, including physicians, investors, solution developers, funders and others interested in participating in the impact of the health solutions ecosystem, is invited to join the In Full Health learning and action community that embeds racial justice. was inspired by the AMA’s strategic plan to Advance Health Equity.
“I think of technology as a bridge,” Anderson said in the interview.
“On one side of the bridge, we’ve got the health care industry and its technologies, which can take so many forms—patient portals, wearables, connected health devices, telehealth, virtual care, and health apps—just to name a few. , ” she said. “On the other side of the bridge are people — all those whom the health care system seeks to serve.”
While some people who are comfortable with health technology and able to use it can cross the bridge without problem, many—including some who could actually benefit from using it—do not. unable or unwilling to do so.
“Techquity means acknowledging that, if the health care industry itself does not bridge and meet our communities where they belong, the health tech bridge remains unattainable, no matter how influential health tech may be,” Anderson said.
“Talking about this topic is not enough,” she said. “It is critical that the industry has a clear, concrete, transparent plan for success and that we are constantly evaluating how we are doing.”
Tech access and digital literacy are now “super” determinants of health that affect a person’s abilities to access education and employment, says the Ipsos-HLTH report, which identifies these three elements of technology.
15% to 24% of Americans may not have access to a broadband Internet connection. Although New York City has the infrastructure to provide nearly universal broadband access, about one-third of its homes go without.
Mistrust is manifested in fears of engaging with health technology and concerns about sharing personal health information. The report says efforts must be made to embed equity in innovations and improve current perceptions, otherwise patients “may continue to be trapped outside the health care system”.
Guinan said reviewing data-collection processes and understanding the value of diverse representation are two things companies can do.
“Make sure you’re collecting the data you need to understand the populations you serve and how well you’re meeting their needs,” she explained. “Demand diversity from your business partners and invest in diverse leadership and governance within your own company.”
The Equine Health Innovation Solutions Development Toolkit at Full Health can enable understanding among solution-developers, buyers, and investors on how communities historically marginalized by the U.S. health care industry are involved in the design, development, testing, and evaluation of health solutions. can be imposed. Innovation to ensure positive health outcomes and avoid or reduce harm.