Today, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® and the Connected Health Initiative (CHI) are launching a new effort to address longstanding health disparities in the U.S., amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Public and private leaders including Best Buy Health, Boston Children’s Hospital, Google, Microsoft and Validic will help lead the Health Equity and Access Leadership (HEAL) Coalition – a multi-sector initiative to create recommendations on the greater use of technology to mitigate health disparities, particularly coordination of resources, policy advocacy, research and education.
Shortly after the pandemic struck the U.S., COVID-19 quickly began to impact certain demographics more than others. Data from surveillance networks maintained by the CDC show that for a three-month period ending in mid-July, age-adjusted COVID-19 hospitalization rates were about five times higher for Black, Hispanic and American Indian and Alaska Native people than for Whites. Recent Medicare data shows Blacks were hospitalized with COVID-19 at a rate nearly four times higher than Whites.
“The rise of digital health technology gives us a unique opportunity to help advance health equity, improve access to care, increase health care quality and lower costs,” said Rene Quashie, vice president, digital health, CTA. “Disparities in health have long been an issue in the U.S., and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exposed those gaps. With greater use and adoption of technology, we can help reduce inefficiencies and provide more personalized care for marginalized patients and consumers.”
“We are at a tipping point for wider use of digital health tools because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Brian Scarpelli, senior global policy counsel, CHI. “As this public health emergency illustrated, technology can assist providers in treating patients no matter their location. We cannot afford to leave marginalized populations behind in this effort and must make a greater effort examine how technology can help close the gaps in the provision of care due to racial disparities within the healthcare system.”
The initiative is co-chaired by Dr. Lucienne Ide, founder and chief health innovator, Rimidi, a digital health company that enables personalized management of chronic conditions; and Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick, founder and CEO, Grapevine Health, former chief medical officer for DC Medicaid, and one of five co-chairs on Joe Biden's committee for health care policy.
Members of the Coalition include representatives from AT&T, Best Buy Health, Boston Children’s Hospital, Cambria Health, Google, Grapevine Health, HP, Intel, Microsoft, MLEM, Omron Healthcare, ResMed, Rimidi, University of Mississippi Medical Center, University of Virginia Center for Telehealth and Validic.
Allied organizations to the initiative include Brookings, Kapor Center, Plum Alley Ventures. The group will also include non-participatory observers from key government agencies including the FCC.
“Access to health technology, trust and health literacy are all essential for improving health outcomes in underserved communities,” said Fitzpatrick. “CTA and CHI have convened a strong group of players to assess this important issue – I’m encouraged that government stakeholders will observe our process to better understand the policies needed and role technology can play in addressing health inequities.”
“We have a unique opportunity at this moment of national focus on health disparities to drive significant change in access, outcomes, and affordability of healthcare,” said Ide. “The disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minorities has shone a spotlight on other inequities as well, such as higher rates of chronic disease and significant discrepancies in life expectancy in Black and Hispanic communities. Technology can help overcome intractable barriers to equitable care, but we must ensure that these tools are available and accessible to these communities that need them the most.
Together, CTA and CHI will explore ways in which the increasing use of health technology such as mobile health, wearables, remote monitoring, clinical decision support, AI and telehealth can be used to improve the country’s response to health disparities in diverse geographies, communities and demographics. This can range from using technology such as AI in health clinical decision support to more effectively treat patients, to using social media as a platform at the local level to empower low-income pregnant women to seek care and reduce infant mortality.
The Coalition’s first project will be a white paper with policy and operational recommendations addressing technology’s role in tackling disparities in the American healthcare system.
About Consumer Technology Association:
As North America’s largest technology trade association, CTA® is the tech sector. Our members are the world’s leading innovators – from startups to global brands – helping support more than 18 million American jobs. CTA owns and produces CES® – the most influential tech event in the world. Find us at CTA.tech. Follow us @CTAtech.
About Connected Health Initiative:
The Connected Health Initiative (CHI) is the nation’s leading consortium of health technology innovators, policy experts and patient advocates. Together, we advance solutions that enable providers and patients to achieve better health outcomes, reduce health costs and foster the adoption of transformative technology throughout the healthcare system. For more information visit ConnectedHI.com.