A Need for Digitally Inclusive Health Care Service in the United States: Recommendations for Clinicians and Health Care Systems

Pravesh Sharma, Christi A. Patten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic led to digital health service expansion that widened the existing digital divide. Residing in areas of limited broadband internet connectivity, lacking access to smart devices, and/or having low digital health literacy (ease, comfort, and skills to use technology) pose barriers to receiving health care remotely. This unequal access to health care is further exacerbated for older adults, those with lower income and less education, racial and ethnic minorities, and those who do not speak English. Because an individual's digital access (broadband internet connectivity and access to smart devices) and literacy can affect health care quality and outcomes, it is proposed that those 2 factors should be categorized as a key domain of social determinants of health. In this commentary, the authors highlight digital access and literacy barriers in the context of the United States health care service delivery. They underscore the importance of screening every patient during regular clinical visits for digital access and literacy as social determinants of health, using the electronic health record. The authors believe this will enhance digital health care by creating a more person-centered, inclusive method for clinicians and health care systems to digitally connect to patients of all backgrounds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-153
Number of pages5
JournalThe Permanente journal
Volume26
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 14 2022

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • access
  • digital equity
  • digital health
  • social determinants of health
  • telehealth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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