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October 22, 2021

Focusing on Digital Health Equity

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
  • 2Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco
JAMA. 2021;326(18):1795-1796. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.18459

The disproportionate toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black, Hispanic/Latinx, and lower-income communities highlighted long-standing disparities in health and health care. Addressing these disparities requires fundamental changes to health care delivery; more equitable outcomes will not be achieved without changing the underlying system.

The renewed focus on health equity comes at a time of rapid digital transformation of the health care system. This transformation offers an opportunity to address many core health equity challenges. Digital health involves digitally enabled tools and environments to augment in-person health care with digital communication, education, and remote care management. These approaches have the potential to address some of the structural challenges for marginalized populations, including lowering access barriers of time and distance and providing tailored communication by language and literacy. Yet the digitization of health care can also harm health equity if this digitally enabled ecosystem moves forward without proactive engagement, planning, and implementation.

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1 Comment for this article
Neologisms Do Not Promote Health Equity
John Raines, MD | Retired
I listened to several of the authors on the podcast version of the article use the word 'minoritized.' I don't think it is a word at all, but if it were, it would imply that it meant something more than 'minority'--that persons had been actively made into a minority, I suppose.

The obfuscating neologism was used even as they discussed the importance of using words and ideas that are at a grade level that suits the patient. I would say the opposite was apparent in the podcast. I am discouraged that advocates for patients don't choose and use
words that patients understand as a matter of routine.