The issue of health disparities in the U.S. should be a growing concern for everyone.
Despite the fact that we have the best doctors, nurses, hospitals and technology in the world, there are way too many Americans (mostly minorities) who suffer from preventable chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
And yet, it is precisely these groups with the highest burden of illness that are expected to grow the most, as a proportion of total U.S. population. So to put it in context, the future health of America as a whole will be shaped substantially by improving the health of these racial and ethnic minorities.
This is where technology comes in.
Image Credit: Intel Free Press, Wikimedia Creative Commons
Research by Pew Internet Project shows that minorities are leading the way in the use of mobile and health information.
“The use of technology among minority communities has created an opportunity to disrupt the current trajectory of health disparities,” says Dr. Ivor Horn, pediatrician and researcher with a passion for technology.
In an article posted on Pulse and Signal, Dr. Horn observes that “while minorities are early adopters of mobile technology, and therefore best positioned to benefit from tech innovations in health care…there have been very few companies & initiatives developing tech services focused on these communities of color.”
This and similar conversations are long overdue. At next year’s SXSW Interactive Event a few thought leaders in healthcare and technology will be spreading the word about the opportunities for tech developers to tackle the issue of health disparities among minorities. (I must confess, it would have been great to see Dr. Juan Rivera - physician and Health IT innovator – among them).
I believe the time is ripe for tech developers to start getting actively involved in solving this problem. The only challenge I see (and it shouldn’t really be a problem!) is the need to customize some of these eHealth tools for cultural and perhaps even linguistic relevance in order to appeal to communities of color.
For a deeper perspective on this subject read the full article by Dr. Ivor Horn here.
What do you think?
How do you see tech developers helping to solve the problem of health disparities in the U.S.