The Digital Health for Equitable Health Alliance and other initiatives aim to support minority care delivery and achieve health equity.

Digital health initiatives seek to improve access to care for underserved populations.

Health care availability, access and delivery has been compromised for too long for low-income, minority and underserved populations.

In many metropolitan areas, citizens live in health care deserts that make it difficult for people to seek health care when they need it or maintain health care therapies conveniently. This results in patient populations at high risk of receiving needed health services, thereby discouraging health care providers from extending care to these citizens.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the chasm between haves and have-nots. Many minority groups have experienced higher rates of illness and death from COVID-19. Key The factors underlying health care inequities include economic stability, neighborhood and physical environment, level of education, food availability, community/safety/social context, and health systems community.

A Altar report identifies a potential economic gain of $135 billion a year if racial health disparities are eliminated, including $93 billion in excess medical care costs and $42 billion in untapped productivity. People of color are expected to make up 50% of the U.S. population by 2050, which is an important driver in the drive to reduce health care costs and improve quality of care and treatment outcomes for all people. citizens by the federal government.

As the pandemic has taught us, digital technologies will be an important foundation for reshaping healthcare services to achieve the quadruple goal of reducing healthcare costs, improving population health and patient experience. , and to improve the well-being of healthcare teams.

A new alliance to drive equity in health care

A new Alliance announced in May – the Digital Health for Equitable Health Alliance – aims to improve health equity through the expansion of digital health innovations. Members of the alliance include historically black colleges and universities, patient and physician advocacy organizations, and corporations — all with a mission to improve access to care in underserved organizations.

The alliance will focus on reducing health disparities for low-income, minority, and underserved populations in the United States through digital health. The alliance will promote policies and programs aimed at increasing people’s access to healthcare by developing innovations involving telehealth, wearable devices, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Amazon Web Services is an example of a company that focuses on providing equitable healthcare services through digital technologies. The AWS Healthcare Accelerator was created to focus on health equity. The accelerator includes a $40 million commitment the organization has made to support start-ups developing solutions to reduce health inequalities.

The AWS program will support 10 startups with technical, business, and mentorship programs. Startups must be based in the United States or have existing operations in the United States if they are international. Startups will be considered for funding if they focus on one or more areas, including improving access to health services, reducing disparities by addressing the social determinants of health, and leveraging data to promote equitable and inclusive systems of care.

The Digital Health for Equitable Health Alliance and AWS Healthcare Accelerator provide great examples for solving health inequities in this country.

Aim to strengthen social stability

The current American health care system is based on providing care to people who have insurance, and a large portion of our population that does not have Medicare or Medicaid does not have access to health insurance through his employer or simply cannot afford the exorbitant cost of current health policies. This population of citizens is mostly represented by minorities in underserved communities that local healthcare providers are no less concerned about supporting.

Emerging digital healthcare solutions where smartphones provide access to symptom checkers can provide diagnostic tools (such as heart rhythms and voice biomarkers), identify and solve SDOH challenges, connect people to health centers communities and enable better health care for these citizens.

Many organizations have good intentions

While the Digital Health for Equitable Health Alliance and the AWS Healthcare Accelerator are good examples of how organizations and companies are moving forward to address the issue of healthcare inequality, these programs cannot falter. Failure to provide tangible and rapidly adopted digital solutions to help affected citizen populations will lead to social disruption. Payers and pharmaceutical companies must join these efforts.

Here are some critical success factors:

  • Healthcare organizations should consider joining the Digital Health for Equitable Health Alliance to establish strategies for improving healthcare services for their underserved communities.
  • Healthcare organizations must prioritize digital healthcare solutions based on their ability to help support both current patient populations and underserved communities.

Providers should identify Medicaid-eligible minority citizens, enroll them, and use digital health solutions to better manage their healthcare as a starting point.

This country’s healthcare system promotes inequality of care for minority citizens who lack access to affordable healthcare coverage. Many minority citizens forgo health insurance because it is too expensive, and when they need health care, they are often bankrupted for the services they receive.

A visit to an emergency department for a potential stroke assessment can easily cost $30,000. This has a significant impact on the lifestyle of low-income citizens, who now have to deal with additional financial liabilities.

This is an ethical, moral and social embarrassment for the United States. The pandemic has highlighted the challenges the country faces in providing care equally to all patient populations. Although digital health technologies cannot solve the problem of access to care, such as the affordability of insurance, they can improve the delivery of care through lower-cost solutions that improve the quality of care. Digital technologies will underpin virtual care that has the potential to provide more affordable services to low-income citizens if we can price that care fairly.

Mike Davis is an analyst for KLAS Research. This column originally appeared on the KLAS website here.