Wednesday, August 11, 2010

eHealth Disparities - strategies continued

A few more thoughts on potential strategies based on meaningful access...

For those who do not currently have meaningful access, but who could get meaningful access as a result of our efforts, we might think of two complimentary paths:

  1. Bring the people to the technology
  2. Bring the technology to the people
In the first case, we're changing the people. In the second case, we're changing the technology.

By "changing the people," I simply mean finding ways to help these folks take advantage of tools others already have. For example:
  • Public access computers in libraries, medical centers, etc.
  • Subsidized access (e.g., some health plans give away cell phones with unlimited minutes for interactions with the health plan)
  • Training on how to purchase, use, maintain, and troubleshoot
In the second case, "bring the technology to the people," we're changing the technology, content, and functionality to make it more accessible, appropriate, and useful to people. For example,
  • Change our push messages from phone and email to SMS
  • Optimize existing web sites for access on pocketable devices
  • Convert key Web interactions to work on IVR (touch-tone telephone trees)
For folks who don't have meaningful access and who won't have meaningful access regardless of what we do, when I blogged a couple of days ago I left off what could be a key strategy:
  • Use higher end technologies with other people so as to free up more traditional resources to attend to the needs of those who don't use those technologies. Here's a way to think about it: If we can use the web to save phone calls to a call center, that should free up call center resources. We would then need to deploy those call center resources to better serve the needs of the people who don't use the web.
I'm liking this basic approach of organizing our strategies based on meaningful access. But I also have a suspicion that we might do better to simply look at age and socioeconomic status (income & education). There's a ton of data out there, and the trip remains finding ways to simplify our approach while respecting the integrity of all that data.

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