Health Equity

What is digital health equity?

Digital health equity refers to the fair and just opportunity for individuals to engage with digital health tools and technologies, ensuring good health outcomes without being hindered by lack of access. As our health care system undergoes rapid digital transformation, we have a unique chance to address core health equity challenges.

Essentially, it means ensuring everyone has fair and just access to the benefits of digital health technologies, which consist of three key aspects:

1. Equitable Improved access: Digital technology can narrow the equity gap by streamlining access to health care services, especially for marginalized populations. Everyone should be able to use digital health tools, regardless of factors like income, race, ethnicity, language, disability, or location. This means addressing barriers like:

  • Lack of internet access or affordable devices: Many communities lack reliable internet access or struggle to afford devices like smartphones or tablets.
  • Digital literacy: Not everyone has the skills or knowledge to use digital health tools effectively.
  • Limited language options: Many tools are only available in English, excluding non-English speakers.

2. Equitable outcomes to address unmet needs: People should experience positive health outcomes when using digital health tools regardless of their background. Even when patients overcome geographic and financial barriers, unmet healthcare needs persist. Digital solutions can bridge these gaps by providing tailored communication, education, and remote care management. Equitable outcomes further require:

  • Inclusive design: Tools need to be designed to be usable by everyone, considering diverse needs and abilities.
  • Data fairness: Algorithms used in digital health should not perpetuate existing biases or discriminate against specific groups.
  • Culturally appropriate interventions: Tools should be culturally sensitive and relevant to the needs of different communities.

3. Equitable design and development: Everyone should have a voice in shaping how digital health technologies are developed and implemented by focusing on community engagement, investment in digital health research, and promoting accountability and transparency.