Health tech entrepreneurs and a report released this week look at ways to bridge knowledge and behavior gaps in health technology.
If you keep company with early adopter tech types, it might seem commonplace to book doctors’ appointments online or track activity with any of several new wearable sensors. But while digital health is gaining ground, it still has a ways to go before its most innovative applications hit mass adoption. And as bleeding edge individuals and companies embrace new ways of receiving and delivering healthcare, it’s critical to consider how new health technology can reach people in all communities – not just the country’s elite pockets.
While technology, especially mobile devices, is more ubiquitous than ever, there are still disparities in broadband access, availability of digital tools and information about new services. The Pew Internet & American Life Project, for example, reports that Latinos (55 percent) and African-Americans (58 percent) are less likely than Whites (75 percent) to have a home Internet connection. Not surprisingly, Pew also says that those with more education and higher incomes are also more likely to go online for health care information – 78 percent of those who earn more than $75,000 vs. 45 percent of those who earn less than $30,000.Keep early adopters happy, let them help spread the word
On the panel, Dr. Parkinson said that Sherpaa, which works through employers to provide 24/7 access to doctors via email and phone, targets companies like Tumblr and General Assembly because “you have to start with people that get it.”
“If Facebook or the iPhone started marketing to my parents first they wouldn’t have taken off,” he said. The economics of healthcare is slow (especially relative to the pace of technology) because it’s defined by the government, but by keeping early adopters happy and buzzing about their experiences with Sherpaa, he said he hopes they can gradually educate more and change the system.