In the face of a pandemic, the disenfranchised face greater risk. Ruhlen points to poverty as a factor, in that those without the benefit of economic stability cannot stockpile goods like others can. This means that they are forced to “go out into the environment” on a more frequent basis, thus increasing their risk of exposure. Chuang aptly summed up this reality by saying that “[COVID-19] is identifying and accentuating many existing gaps.”
According to Chuang, another important chasm exists at the micro-level: “The gap in knowledge and information lies beyond the high-level directives and best practices for things like social distancing and self-care. We’re missing personalized, individualized plans for care for individuals with chronic conditions in the context of COVID-19.” Patients with underlying conditions often require special considerations for safe practices amidst viral spread, and no two patients are the same, regardless of shared chronic illnesses. Chuang articulates that a potential opportunity for addressing this issue would be the collection of biometric data in order to understand the unique baseline for each patient.
At the ASSIST Center, Misra is building battery-free, always-on, long-term wearables to gather such baseline data as well as trends over time. Gathering information regarding each patient’s normal heart rate, oxygen level, or activity levels can inform providers to take action when something changes. Furthermore, the use of AI (artificial intelligence) in the analysis of biometric data presents a unique opportunity to aid in personalized care delivery.
As the world is forced to move toward digital and virtual means of communication, it’s important to consider that some may be left behind. Ruhlen argues that access to the internet should be considered among the other social determinants of health, given the importance of this variable for access to safe communication and care. Chuang agrees:
“Just like healthcare, digital technology is not evenly distributed across the population. As much as we are seeing digital transformation, we also have to address the system at the macro level because it shows the same pattern as healthcare in terms of access and other issues.”
Nonetheless, innovative technology developed by researchers at places like the ASSIST Center holds promise for leveling the playing field to some extent. By remaining conscious of material cost and working with insurance companies and other payment providers, Misra hopes to expand access to care and information through the use of low-cost wearable technologies.
DHIT thanks its guests for serving on the panel, and everyone who tuned in! If you were not able to catch last week’s webinar, check out DHIT’s Media page to see what you missed. DHIT would also like to give a special shout out to our sponsors: Bluedoor Group, Tanjo, and Smashing Boxes, for making this webinar possible.
We are excited to announce that DHIT will be partnering with the ASSIST Center to launch an ongoing focus on remote care. Beginning May 15th, DHIT and the ASSIST Center will partner to launch a virtual incubator using Crowdicity to collect crowdsourced ideas from the digital health community. For more information, see the latest edition of the DHIT Digest, and mark your calendar for Friday, May 15th for the next installment of the DHIT Frequency Webinar Series. Until then, stay safe, everyone! To view previous recordings, visit DHIT’s Media page here: https://www.dhitglobal.org/media/
The Digital Health Institute for Transformation (DHIT) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit education and research institute supporting communities through the process of digital health transformation. We collaborate with leading academic institutions, associations, and industry to cultivate talent and ecosystems with our immersive learning platform, harnessing real-world experiences that drive the adoption of next-generation skills, emerging technologies, and mindsets needed to foster the digital health leaders and innovators of the future, today. For more information, visit dhitglobal.org.
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