Does everyone have an equal opportunity to benefit from digitisation?

The rapid digitalisation of healthcare has posed a considerable risk of increasing #digitalinequality, which in turn may cause an increased risk of health deterioration, and social isolation, especially for those who already are in a vulnerable position.

A review by Honeyman M, Maguire D, Evans H and Davies A (2020)Digital technology and health inequalities: a scoping review (2020) found the following patterns in the underlying components of digital exclusion.

There is good evidence to believe that many groups who are already subject to disadvantage and worse health outcomes are also subject to digital exclusion, but the relationship is complex. Some national-level evidence involving narrow measures of access and use of digital technologies suggests that gaps in measures of digital technology use between disadvantaged groups and the rest of the population have been narrowing in recent years. However, important differences in access and use persist:

■ People living in rural areas have less access to, and slower, internet infrastructure. Recent data is lacking but deprived areas also seemed to be more likely to lack access.

■ Older people are less likely to own smartphones or connect to the internet.

■ Where differences between ethnic groups persist in internet access this is explained by the age and income profile of these groups. We found few other studies of differences between ethnic groups.

■ People with lower income are less likely to have access to smartphones in their household and be on pay monthly contracts and data plans.

There is an absence of evidence about differences in the way different social groups engage with digital technologies – for health and other purposes – but there are concepts of digital literacy and health literacy, as well as trust and privacy concerns, that are likely to be important in the success of digital health initiatives. Simple measures of use and access cannot account for these.

That’s why at CheckUp Health we are developing the CheckUp Health app and clinical dashboard weaving in cultural and linguistic competencies at the design stage and involving users as we work on the AI decision-making elements of the platform. The Checkup Health App platform is an NHS Digital Framework approved software for rollout in NHS healthcare settings and comes with IOS and Android Apps.

#digitalcare #digitaladoption #digitalhealthcare #healthcareinnovation #healthcare #digitalhealthplatform #healthcareforall #NHS