The COVID-19 pandemic has both illuminated and exacerbated existing disparities in the U.S. health system.
But, as experts will note at a HIMSS21 Global Conference Digital session next week, those disparities reach beyond the pandemic – and innovators have an opportunity to work to address them.
In the panel moderated by Parity Health Information & Technology founder and Chief Innovator Iris Frye, participants will weigh in on what “equitable innovation” looks like and how it can be used in partnership with health data to combat injustice.
The health equity challenge, says Reenita Das, partner at Frost and Sullivan, is that it’s very complex.
It goes beyond medical care alone, she says, and extends to advocacy, social justice, grassroots organizing, workers’ rights, racial equity, LGBTQ health, housing, transportation and other issues.
As a result, she says, the conversation about health equity must be equally broad.
Dr. Azizi Seixas, assistant professor of population health and psychology at New York University, says equitable innovation should mean solutions that are human- and population-centered, accessible and user-friendly.
The most innovative, AI-based solutions, he says, will be worth little if people can’t actually use them.
Seixas believes that extending the boundaries of a healthcare system to what happens at home, work and play will enable tools that address a population’s wider needs.
But it can’t stop with population health alone, Das points out: It’s vital to note that some groups are not equally represented when it comes to funding and research.
Centering specific audiences that have needs that differ from the so-called mainstream, she says, can be a way to counter decades – if not centuries – of services that have catered to those already in power.
Effective tools should not fail to take that discrepancy into account, she notes.
Frye, Seixas and Das will continue the conversation as part of a morning-long HIMSS21 Digital session, “Building More Equitable Healthcare.” It’s scheduled to air on Wednesday, Aug. 11, from 9:55 to 11:30 a.m. Read more about the HIMSS21 Digital program here.
HIMSS21 Digital Coverage
Inside look at HIMSS21 Digital programming, including hours of on-demand content highlighting healthcare technology, innovation and education.