Expanding Health Equity into Technology: A Preview of the Techquity Conversation at ViVE [Sponsored]

A video montage features people talking about how they use technology to manage their health. They typify, in some ways, populations that are sidelined from healthcare by lack of privilege: A middle aged couple living in a rural community with patchy wifi; a young family for whom English is a second language; a formerly incarcerated young man. They share frustration, anxiety, and concerns over how their health data will be used and protected. These interviews call attention to the disconnect between the robust investment and developments in health tech adoption for clinicians and patients over the past 12 years and the very patients expected to use this technology.

The video is part of a 2021 research partnership between Ipsos Healthcare and the HLTH Foundation that conducted patient and industry research into techquity in healthcare. The project led to the formation of the HLTH Foundation’s new Techquity for Health Coalition. Its goal is to help integrate health equity standards into healthcare technology and data practices.

The Coalition describes techquity as the strategic design, development, and deployment of technology to advance health equity, and acknowledgement that technology can inhibit advancements in health equity if not implemented intentionally and inclusively.

The first major project for the Coalition is a National Techquity for Health survey. It plans to share findings from the survey at the second annual ViVE conference in Nashville March 26-29, together with a new patient video featuring young people discussing their experiences with health technology—part of the Coalition’s strategy to keep patient experiences front-and-center in the techquity dialogue. 

The conference will also cast a spotlight on techquity through the Techquity Impact Program, a content agenda hosting guest speakers sharing insights on tech-enabled health equity programs that address issues such as health and tech literacy, accessibility, workforce equity, patient trust, and equitable use of data.

Research from the Coalition is supported by Amazon Web Services, EmpiRx Health, Epistemix, Hopelab, NTT DATA, Outcomes 4Me, ResMed, Tegria, and VSP Vision Global Innovation Center.

“Technology and data analytics offer enormous promise to improve care access and quality, but also add new layers of consideration for health equity,” said Janna Guinen, executive director of the HLTH Foundation, which established the Coalition. “We urge healthcare leaders to participate in the techquity survey. With the continued digitization of healthcare, action is needed now to avoid further entrenchment of systemic inequities and outcomes disparities,” she said.

An Advisory Committee informs decision-making at the foundation including:

  • Dr. Ricky Choi, Stanford University School of Medicine
  • Grace Cordovano, Enlightening Results, LLC
  • Burgess Harrison, National Minority Health Association
  • Tanisha Hill, Digital Health for Equitable Health Alliance
  • Pooja Mittal, Health Net
  • Lorren Pettit, CHIME
  • Dr. Kyu Rhee, Aetna/CVS Health
  • Andrea Werner, Bellin Health and Gundersen Health Systems
  • John Cordier, Epistemix
  • Jaime Dictenberg, EmpiRX Health
  • Lisa Esch, NTT DATA Services
  • Amy Green, Hopelab
  • William Flanagan, VSP Global Innovation Center
  • Rowland Illing, Amazon Web Services
  • Carlos M. Nunez, ResMed
  • Maya R. Said, Outcomes4Me

Techquity has become a matter of urgency, as a 2022 whitepaper from Ipsos and the HLTH Foundation noted. Although many health tech tools are intended to improve accessibility to healthcare, poor user interfaces, inadequate access to wifi and other factors risk undermining health equity initiatives. Increasingly, technology is intended to be the “bridge” or connector between individuals and the healthcare system. For those that are able and willing to use healthtech, “crossing the bridge” is seamless; if not, technology can become a barrier.

The Path to Techquity whitepaper concluded: “Achieving techquity will require strong leadership, long-term investment, organizational transformation, collaboration, inclusivity, transparency, and perhaps most importantly, the will to change.”

Photo: Maria Symchych-Navrotska, Getty Images