Why healthcare industry leaders need to prioritize digital equity – VentureBeat
Presented by Optum
Barriers like broadband access, digital literacy, language, disabilities and more shut many out of the healthcare system. Watch now to learn why it’s urgent for industry leaders to close the gaps, and come away with a plan to identify and eliminate the digital challenges your customers face.
Healthcare is facing a new frontier, says Tushar Mehrotra, senior vice president, analytics at Optum. In just a few years, the industry has seen a boom in digital health tools and technologies on both the patient and provider side, along with an explosion of health data, which has been driving increasingly sophisticated predictive and prescriptive insights into individuals and populations.
Unfortunately, this frontier has proven to be hostile to marginalized communities. There is a growing digital divide, where healthcare technology has actually posed challenges, instead of benefits. The barriers to accessing newly digitized care are legion: it’s everything from language barriers to low income, lack of broadband or mobile access, disabilities and physical differences, low digital literacy, a fully understandable mistrust of the healthcare system and much more. The danger is that this divide will continue to grow, and even become insuperable.
“As we continue to advance healthcare technology and drive innovation in the space, we’ll see tremendous benefits — but it has to be done in a way where we’re thoughtful about implications and consumption across communities,” Mehrotra says. “The challenge is to reach all consumers without exacerbating the disparities that exist in our communities today.”
In other words, putting what he calls techquity front and center. Mehrotra describes techquity as using advancements in healthcare technology to drive health equity in underserved, vulnerable and at-risk populations, and close the access gaps.
Healthcare industry leaders are responsible for driving the techquity movement – it’s not only an ethical consideration, but also offers a number of advantages for consumers and organizations alike.
The real-world benefits of techquity
On the consumer side, techquity can change – or save — a person’s life. It unlocks new ways to drive health outcomes, safety and healthcare decisions, and enables the right care at the right point in time, in a way that wasn’t possible in the past. Access to healthcare technology and knowledge creates transparency into the system, enabling more choices for consumers navigating treatment.
But there are tremendous benefits for organizations as well. Techquity opens up innovation for organizations, promoting new ways of thinking, new avenues of exploration, and possibilities. It builds valuable trust between an organization and a customer, and opens up access to new potential customers that have previously been unreachable, or even invisible, in the past.
“As leaders we need to help consumers understand why it’s essential for their healthcare outcomes to stay on the digital landscape, and help them get comfortable it,” he says. “If you want to reap the potential of healthcare technology, fundamentally change the industry, and drive adoption, it’s going to be important to be a trusted partner for consumers navigating this new world.”
Why techquity rests in the hands of the C-suite
Techquity starts at the top, Mehrotra says.
“It’s important for a healthtech leadership team or an organization to really understand that you can build and design tools and technologies that are relevant for anyone in the population,” Mehrotra says. “We have influence, if we set up our product teams and tech teams in a way that we haven’t maybe thought about in the past. That’s why it’s important to treat this as a C-suite-level topic.”
For organizations, it’s about fundamentally changing their approach to building technology, doing the right research and market testing, and incorporating that equitable approach into designing, building and launching products. If this is not a top-team agenda item, then it isn’t going to be funneling down to the technology or product or design teams.
“If leadership isn’t there, you’ll run into challenges in terms of making sure it disseminates and is incorporated into your organizational approach,” he says.
But the biggest challenge is finding ways to address the fear or concern of the highest risk consumers who are at risk of being separated even further from access to healthcare. Leadership must take point on this effort too.
“There has to be a willingness, a persistence, a focus, and a commitment of resources in an organization, one, to understand that this is important, and two, to understand the implications of it,” he says. “There has to be proactive outreach to those communities. Unless you have that outreach — the partnerships in the local community to drive education, drive understanding — you’re not going to get the change in behavior.”
To learn more about the dangers of healthcare inequity, why industry leaders should care, how your organization can address your customer’s digital divide, and more, don’t miss this VB On-Demand event.
- How to build a data-driven map that identifies the health literacy, digital access and social determinants that impact digital engagement and outcomes
- How to align your efforts with the cultural, social and economic environments experienced by the people you serve
- Ideas for addressing the root causes that create barriers to health— and where simple digital solutions can close gaps
- How to offer simple choices to ensure a consumer’s digital experience is consistent across the health journey
- Duncan Greenberg, VP of Product, Oscar Health
- Michael Thompson, VP, Chief of Staff, Systems Improvement, Bassett Healthcare Network
- Tushar Mehrotra, SVP, Data & Analytics, OptumInsight
- John Li, Senior Director, Clinical Analytics and Product Solutions, Optum
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