Closing the Digital Divide: Bridging the Gap with HomECG+
Updated: 5 days ago
The phrase digital divide was coined well before the 20th century to describe the gap between those with a telephone and those without (1). The term has morphed as new technologies have emerged and a digital divide has now been defined as the “gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology (ICT)” (1). As we reflect on nearly two centuries of technological advancement, it is clear that the digital divide is most definitely not a relic of the past.
Closing the digital divide in the United States today impacts individuals, households, and geographic areas. The barriers of infrastructure, digital literacy, and location remain formidable hurdles (2).
Three Key Contributors to the Digital Divide:
Financial limitations impact millions of Americans, making access to both technology and the tools needed to utilize it a major challenge. According to a 2021 study from The Pew Research Center, 24% of adults with household incomes below $30,000 a year don’t own a smartphone, while 43% do not have home broadband services (3).
Digital literacy is insufficient and there must be a foundational understanding of technology once access is granted. Research suggests that 16% of Americans are not digitally literate and therefore unable to utilize some innovation even with proper access (4).
Geographic internet deserts still exist where connectivity varies, highlighting the location-based disparities. In fact, an estimated 30 million Americans experience internet services that are either too slow to be effective for utilization of technology or completely nonexistent (5).
Numerous research findings suggest that both income levels and attainment of education serve as predictors of access to/utilization of information and communication technologies (2). Simultaneously, various initiatives are underway to digitalize the healthcare journey throughout the nation. In a post pandemic world, the increased acceptance of telehealth has been seen by both the provider and the patient.
While the expansion of telehealth is rapidly progressing, what do healthcare leaders need to understand about these services with respect to the digital divide?
A recent McKinsey report outlined actions that can help expand access to digital technology. Two of these actions include refining a technology strategy that supports data flow and interoperability and scaling up tools that enable chronic-condition management (6). The Institute of Medicine (IOM) defined the 6 Domains of Healthcare Quality as the gold standard in what organizations should aim for when delivering patient care: Safe, Timely, Effective, Efficient, Equitable, and Patient-Centered (7).
The HomECG+ is an FDA-cleared, pocket-sized device that checks all of these boxes and more. This device was built to take an ECG reading in less than a minute with the digital divide in mind.
As we move forward, let us remember that technology should not exacerbate inequalities. When organizations spend millions on their internal innovation platforms but fail to consider the patient’s ability to utilize the technology on the other end, they have created a deeper chasm in the digital divide. Healthcare leaders need to develop partnerships with vendors who have built their technology as a solution to bridge those gaps. By embracing Remote Cardiac Monitoring with the HomECG+, we can ensure that digital healthcare investments will reach every patient and their provider and yield improved outcomes.
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