One lesson we can learn from the COVID-19 pandemic is the immediate need for health equity. Although poverty and lack of access are still leading barriers to health equity, the adverse effects of the pandemic worsened the problem, exposing the true extent of inequity in health care. The pandemic resulted in hospitals being overwhelmed and healthcare workers experiencing burnout. This ultimately worsened an already existing inequity and division with the disadvantaged population being further isolated. Health IT can play an integral role in closing the inequities in healthcare access so everyone can achieve their full health potential. Read on to see how technology can help drive health equity.
What Is Health Equity?
Health equity is the ability to fulfill human potential in all areas of health and wellbeing. It means ensuring everyone has an opportunity to be as healthy as possible and that no one is limited from reaching their full health potential because of social position or other discriminatory circumstances. Health equity involves acknowledging that parts of social demographics need additional resources and opportunities that enable them to reach full health potential.
Why Is Health Equity Important?
Health undoubtedly influences the happiness and overall well-being of a person. It is only fair that everyone is given an opportunity to be as healthy as possible. Unfortunately, factors outside your control, including discrimination and lack of resources, can prevent you from achieving the best health. All healthcare stakeholders need to work together toward health equity to correct or challenge factors that lead to inequalities. Health equity helps health outcomes of disadvantaged populations improve for a healthy, happier, and more productive society.
How Health Organizations Can Use Technology to Contribute to Health Equity
The following are some of the ways digital technology contributes to health equity:
- Provides more data: Digital technology can provide more and better patient data to healthcare organizations to gain valuable insights into patients’ clinical, population health, and socioeconomic profiles. A better understanding of the social determinants of health is crucial in addressing existing inequities. Distributing the right technology such as smart devices to underserved populations enables healthcare organizations to interact more with disadvantaged populations, thereby gaining more visibility on the patients wherever they are.
- Actionable analysis: Once actionable data is available, it’s important to compare it to clinical and health outcomes data to identify disparities. Health IT products feature valuable tools designed to analyze demographic and health equity data. Analysis may range from risk stratification, predictive analysis, and location comparisons to benchmarking. Healthcare organizations can take required actions to address disparities based on the analysis. This may include patient outreach programs, care coordination activities, distribution of healthcare services to match geographic needs, and alerts and reminders at the point of care.
- Easy sharing of data: Different parts of healthcare systems can address health inequities. The need to share data among these different entities has never been so urgent. Health IT comes with interoperability capabilities that have enhanced the industry’s ability to share crucial data that can help identify and address healthcare disparities among population segments.
- Enable greater access to health care: It is worth noting many health disparities are due to a direct lack of access to health care, resources, and services. Health IT is now a crucial tool in pursuing greater access to health care. The recent rapid adoption of telemedicine by patients and providers during the COVID-19 pandemic is a crucial case study of how technological tools can help disadvantaged people access quality health care affordably and conveniently. Ensuring smart devices and broadband are available in underserved communities is an important first step to achieving health equity.
The Business Case for Health Equity
A recent study from EY implores organizations within and outside the healthcare industry to position health equity as a strategic imperative. Health inequity exists due to health disparities, and by eliminating these disparities, we get closer to achieving health equity. According to the research findings, a projected $350+ billion will return to society by eliminating the health disparities.
Besides, having health diversity, equity, and inclusion within various industries is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also good for business. Companies with above-average health diversity and equity have more productive employees, higher revenues, and better business outcomes than their competitors.
Organizations in the corporate world should develop programs that help narrow the health disparities gap, especially those focused on specific vulnerable populations. Such programs will help reduce absenteeism and increase productivity and have greater long-term ROI.
Five Steps a Health Organization Can Take to Achieve Health Equity
The following are the five steps that can help health systems to achieve health equity:
- Position health equity as a leader-driven priority: Healthcare stakeholders and leaders have to take an active role in articulating, acting on, and building the vision regarding health equity in their organizations.
- Develop structures and processes that can support equity: This involves dedicating resources and establishing governance structures that ensure health equity mechanisms work optimally.
- Take action to address disparities: You should then take specific actions to identify health disparities and close those gaps. This may include providing disadvantaged patient populations extra support to achieve health outcomes equitable to other socio-economic groups. This support may be in the form of patient outreach, home visits, and assigning someone to drive the patients to appointments.
- Address situational racism within the organization: Health systems should identify, address and eliminate the structures, policies, and norms that promote racism.
- Partner with community organizations: No one person or organization can solve health inequity alone. It requires a collective response to achieve systemic change. You can partner with communities, community organizations, and trusted health technology partners to close disparities in healthcare access.
Address Health Disparities with Versa Technology Solutions
In the U.S., systematic bias and stereotyping based on social and economic parameters drive health disparities. Technology plays a crucial role in addressing these disparities. The right healthcare technology can unobtrusively help the healthcare system gather a robust set of health inequity data. It also aggregates crucial patient data and reports it for analysis while protecting the patient’s privacy. Besides, telemedicine tools and nationwide broadband availability can remove healthcare access barriers and make high-quality care available to all.
At Versa Technology, we are committed to helping create a world where everyone can reach their full health potential. We provide technology solutions designed to enable you to achieve your computer networking goals. Leverage our cutting-edge PoE, switches, and industrial media converters for your advanced IT projects. Contact us today to learn more.