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A Tide That Lifts All Boats: Overcoming Inequity in Digital Health

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For years, people have posed questions along the lines of “when will digital health or virtual health just become health?” The premise being that digital is becoming so central to healthcare that the adjective “digital” is implied and therefore redundant. 

But maybe that’s the wrong question. 

If the quadruple aim is now the quintuple aim with health equity, the new fifth line, maybe the question is instead “When does digital health just become equitable health? 

Making Digital Health More Equitable

Positioning the question from this different angle, the premise is simply that everything we currently do in digital health is arguably already about making healthcare more equitable and effective to and for each and every person. For example, a non-exhaustive sample might be:

  • In expanding and orchestrating virtual health, we are seeking to make the most appropriate and effective tools available at the right time and place and with appropriate context and support for every patient.
  • In addressing patient experience across digital and physical environments, we work in journey sciences to make the right information as accessible, relevant, appropriately engaging, and timely as possible to engage the right people in the right way. 
  • In the back-end, ongoing efforts to enable better interoperability between our digital assets are largely driven by desires to, for example, target clinical decisions, make clinical decisions more informed and timely, draw inferences in marketing so we can carefully and safely communicate messaging, and suggest what will be most beneficial to patients (and hopefully to our businesses as well, but in that order). 
  • Arguably, the many efficiencies we seek to drive adoption of AI either free up precious resources (care professionals, navigators, call center reps, etc.) to be available to the right people at the right time, or accelerate the benefit of virtual health, journey sciences, interoperability in DE&I by speeding up insights about how improve. 

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Overcoming The Risk of Built-in Inequity

Given that digital health has such a massive potential impact on DE&I, we need to account for risk. The risk that if we build our digital tools without carefully considering DE&I throughout, we can inadvertently build inequity into the digital solutions we hope will transform healthcare by removing inequities. 

There are obvious, and well-researched, areas where this risk manifests – e.g. in the building blocks and training processes of AI or ML solutions. But the risks also arise in decisions around change management, governance, and softer, content decision aspects of deploying new digital capabilities. For example, what kinds of options do we layer into Find-a-Doctor filtering tools? How do we bridge the lines between competing norms that may vary between clients and regions? 

The bottom line is that if our starting point for everything is to lead with a DE&I lens to the topic, we are much more likely to build effectively having those goals in mind and, by definition, build more effectively overall. 

READ MORE: The “floats all boats” argument

Healthcare Leaders Turn to Us

Healthcare organizations play a key role in offering access to care, employing, and motivating skilled workers, and acting as social safety nets in their communities. They, along with life sciences organizations, serve on the front lines of addressing health equity. Perficient is dedicated to enabling these organizations to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within their companies.

Our healthcare practice is comprised of experts who understand the unique challenges facing the industry. The 10 largest health systems and 10 largest health insurers in the U.S. have counted on us to support their end-to-end digital success. Modern Healthcare has also recognized us as the fourth largest healthcare IT consulting firm.

We bring pragmatic, strategically-grounded know-how to our clients’ initiatives. And our work gets attention – not only by industry groups that recognize and award our work but also by top technology partners that know our teams will reliably deliver complex, game-changing implementations. Most importantly, our clients demonstrate their trust in us by partnering with us again and again. We are incredibly proud of our 90% repeat business rate because it represents the trust and collaborative culture that we work so hard to build every day within our teams and with every client.

With more than 20 years of experience in the healthcare industry, Perficient is a trusted, end-to-end, global digital consultancy.

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David Allen

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