In order to address the gap in health equity, technology and healthcare professionals must be equipped to provide education, build trust, and fit seamlessly into patients’ lives.
As a part of Breast Cancer Awareness month, CNET, Initiative, and Healthline Media came together to provide support to the breast cancer community through positive storytelling, education and raising donations. Givsly, an organization that facilitates opportunities for business professionals to connect while doing good, hosted the event and coordinated multiple levels of logistics around experiential programming.
One touchpoint of the monthlong education series featured a panel discussion on the “health gap,” exploring the question: As technology advances, how can we ensure it works in the service of achieving health equity? Maureen Bosetti, Chief Investment Officer of Initiative, moderated a panel featuring Editor-at-Large of CNET, Brian Cooley, and Healthline Media’s Senior Manager of Medical Integrity, Jenny Yu, MD, to discover their insights on the topic.
Fulfilling the Potential of Health Technology
According to CNET’s Brian Cooley, great healthcare technology fits these key criteria:
Transparent. Transparent technology gets out of the way. Its integration is seamless so that we can focus on outcomes rather than the technology itself.
Intuitive. It is clear why you use it, how you use it, and when you use it. Great healthcare technology should not be hard to live with.
Intimate. It must be precise to the user and “know” them better than they do.
Constant. It should be available and accessible to users whenever they need it, always within reach.
In evaluating new healthcare technologies, the following attributes can provide insight into equity.
Affordable. This isn’t just about cost, but also price compared to perceived value.
Accessible. What channels and platforms do the technology exist on? How does it interoperate with the technology a person already has?
Acceptable. If a piece of technology is in the mainstream or if people with similar traits and health problems are buying it, an individual will be more likely to follow suit.
Anticipation. There’s a need for technologies that focus on prevention and early detection.
Ambient. Technologies may be more likely to succeed if they are passive — monitoring a person’s vitals automatically, for instance, rather than relying on the person to report them.
Understanding Factors that Determine Access to Care
Cooley and Healthline Media’s Jenny Yu discussed other factors that contribute to health equity and can determine whether a person gets the care they need.
Education. As health information becomes more complex, providers need help educating people. Online health information can help people understand how it applies to them and what next steps to take.
Trust. People are afraid of diagnoses and may avoid care as a result. Building relationships through digital care requires an understanding of human behavior and how to change peoples’ minds, to help them understand why they should take action.
Income. A recent NIH study suggests high income women are significantly more likely to get regular mammography screenings than low income women. Clearly, it’s important to find a way to lower barriers to access related to cost and time.
Price. The newest, most expensive tech doesn’t always equal the best care — the important thing is just getting care in the first place. Older technologies can be cheaper and more accessible.
Examining the Telehealth Transformation
Telehealth has rapidly become more popular over the past couple of years. One question that has arisen in the industry is whether telehealth and digital health tech may potentially be an improvement on traditional healthcare in terms of accessibility.
Part of that question is whether telehealth fosters human support and connection. In fact, the answer seems to be yes — when done well, it can help providers create and sustain relationships, whether over the phone or on a digital platform.
As Yu explained, “People can, for the most part, sense whether you’re really there to help them and really build that long-term relationship, whether you’re there in person versus a telemedicine platform. Those are the aspects of telehealth that sometimes we’re not thinking about as we build access. It’s a support system.”
Expanding those support systems may change who is part of the journey. For instance, pharmacists are getting involved sooner and more often within the telehealth journey — perhaps the role is being reinvented as a source of ongoing support and knowledge for patients.
Another element of the digital healthcare transformation is data monitoring, which will likely be only more important in helping patients get care. Monitoring can help connect patients to the care they need — but could also lead to an avalanche of notifications for providers. Getting this right will call for collaboration across the healthcare and tech industries, in order to integrate AI for pattern recognition and ensure the future of technology works for everyone.
Ensuring Equity Through Patient Education
The panelists closed out the discussion by highlighting the importance of patient education in addressing health equity. Today, many people are moving away from just Googling symptoms — they increasingly want to become more health literate and get the right kind of information. Our responsibility is to provide accurate and clear information for them.
That’s why Healthline Media brands put out the most accurate, up-to-date, and evidence-based information. We know that healthcare and patient care are nuanced. We help readers understand when and if the information applies to them, how to have a productive conversation with a healthcare professional, and think about what to do next.
Healthline Media also works with various partners to incorporate innovations and new treatment plans into our content for our consumers. It’s important to make new information accessible to patients and audiences.
For more information about findings from this panel or about Healthline Media, email us today.