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How Digital Technology Can Enable Health Equity 

Now is the time for healthcare organizations and others to seize the moment and work to eliminate health disparities methodically.

Health disparities across the US are primarily driven by social determinants of health, such as access to quality education, affordable health care, food security, and safe living conditions. Systemic bias and stereotyping are known to play a role in perpetuating health disparities. An enterprise-wide strategic approach to solving this problem is essential. Health payers, providers, biopharma, and others must be willing to re-engineer their business models.

Health equity as a check-the-box initiative is doomed to fail. Digital speeds execution and does so most efficiently if the enterprise has a health equity strategy and an enterprise digital strategy under the umbrella of the broader enterprise strategy. 

“Health equity as a check-box initiative is doomed to failure.”

While the industry, like many others, recognizes digital as an enabler of business strategy, the extent of the existing digital divide needs to be better understood. The pandemic-induced boom in telehealth services has offered an eye-opening and sobering reality. About 65% of care was remote at the pandemic’s peak, and that percentage is expected to settle in the 25%–40% range. While telehealth was beneficial to many patients, it has a flip side – the digital divide left behind many of the populations at elevated risk for contracting the virus.

As health organizations develop and revise their digital platforms and connectivity strategies, they should consider various factors related to the digital divide, including access issues and device preferences (which may be partly driven by a lack of choices). Some 23% of US households lack a desktop or laptop computer; that number jumps to more than 30% among Black and Hispanic households. Around 17% of low-income households are likelier to have a smartphone than a desktop or laptop. Thus, organizational strategies must be drafted to ensure that digital isn’t an impediment to health equity for those already vulnerable to disparities. 

Deploying technology as an enabler to care

A better understanding of the social determinants of health will be essential for ACOs as they address inequities. By knowing these social factors, organizations can make sure they’re providing the right technology and infrastructure to support individuals and interact with them based on their preferences. Spatially Health can give organizations more data so that they have visibility not only into patients’ clinical profiles but also population health profiles and socioeconomic profiles. This can spur the development of composite risk scores and individual care plans. Request a demo today to learn more.  

About Spatially Health:

Spatially Health offers the Equity Equalizer ™ platform to help HCOs to identify and address health equity barriers affecting its patient population.  Spatially Health currently serves over 120K patients across nine states.

Make informed technology Decisions

Not all technology solutions are the same, especially regarding SDOH insights. Download our comprehensive checklist and ensure your SDOH platform aligns with your organization’s specific needs and goals.

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