The healthcare challenges confronting underserved populations have existed for decades, negatively affecting health outcomes. But information technology is now showing great promise in reducing these disparities.
Innovative technologies are being increasingly leveraged at the community and population levels to expand access to healthcare and to address the needs of the underserved, who fall prey to social, economic and environmental factors.
That’s the focus of a panel session to be held in Boston on May 17 as part of Health Data Management’s second Annual “Most Powerful Women in Healthcare IT” event, honoring those for their leadership in helping the industry improve care and patient outcomes while reducing costs.
Participants in the panel session include Mandi Bishop, co-founder and CEO of Aloha Knows; Helen Figge, senior vice president for global strategies and development at LumiraDx USA; Jacquelyn Hunt, chief population health officer of Enli Health Intelligence; Carolyn Langer, MD, chief medical officer at MassHealth; Maxine Mackintosh, founding director of One HealthTech; and Robecca Quammen, CEO of MyConsultQ.
“The populations that are medically underserved are those that are oftentimes overlooked and not only based on inherent attributes such as gender, race, ethnicity, financial confines or disease states, but also various circumstances such as lack of access, demographics, and access to care due to either lack of resources or excess demand versus resources available,” says Figge.
However, mobile devices, cloud computing, telehealth services, as well as remote monitoring with peripheral devices and care management coaching and prompting, hold tremendous potential for supporting the underserved, according to Figge.
Promising technologies for these populations include:
• Smartphones, which are ubiquitous and provide access to the Internet, mobile apps, condition monitoring, educational videos, and personal health records
• Telehealth services that offer routine access to healthcare providers via apps which are easily understood and are affordable
• In-home devices that passively monitor, record, control and alert patient conditions
In particular, Quammen notes that technology can be effective in managing common chronic conditions in underserved populations, including hypertension, diabetes and asthma.
“Managing population health, especially underserved populations, is becoming easier with the use of technologies that follow the consumer in daily life collecting passive data from wearables,” she says.
At the same time, Quammen observes that traditional data collected from electronic health record systems in hospitals and ambulatory settings represent a small fraction of the data that is relevant to disease monitoring and prevention.
“Most of these implementations occur outside the traditional healthcare facility as we focus on population health,” says Quammen, adding that “gaining personal commitment to disease, health, and wellness requires ubiquitous technology be easy, affordable, and accessible in daily life such as apps, wearables, and smartphones.”
As an example, she points to the benefits of monitoring the in-home environment of an underserved asthma patient—such as smoking, humidity and nitrogen oxide levels—to prevent a crisis event that drives the patient to require expensive traditional care.
More information on this panel and HDM’s full agenda for the May 17 “Most Powerful Women in Healthcare IT” event in Boston can be found here.
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