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Digital Health Isn’t Accessible to Everyone, New Research Finds

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A new study from WHO / Europe revealed that digital health technologies are not accessible to all cities and regions in Europe in the same way, raising concerns about the equal use of digital tools in health. Research shows that people who suffer from frailty are among those who find it difficult to access these tools. The study was carried out in association with Health Wales’ Public Health Data, Knowledge and Research Directorate.

It compiles evidence from 2016 to 2022 on inequities in access, use and engagement in digital health technologies. “These findings are important because they send a wake-up call. Although we know that digital tools can continue to improve people’s health and the ability of health workers to care for people people, we now see that the tool does not reach everyone in the same way. , especially those who are healthy.

The underlying health conditions,” Dr David Novillo-Ortiz, Regional Advisor on data and health digital and WHO / Europe said. “We need to better understand why this disparity exists and how we can improve people’s ability to access, use and use digital health tools. This is the only way to fully harness the power of digital solutions.” enough to create a fair future for digital health, ensuring that no one is left behind.”

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Digital technologies are intelligent devices and connected infrastructure that improve health. They include artificial intelligence, digital platforms, software, wearables, and tools that capture and share health data and relevant information between systems. These technologies can help healthcare workers and improve diagnosis, treatment and quality of care.

Key drivers of inequities in access to and use of digital health tools

The study noted that patterns of access, use and engagement with digital technologies vary across societies. Digital health technology is often used in urban areas, as well as by people from ethnic minorities and those facing language barriers.

The survey also found increased use of digital health devices by people with higher education levels and higher economic levels. It was also found that young people use tools more than adults.

Professor Alisha Davies, Director of Research and Research at Health Wales, said: “This is one of the most comprehensive studies on equity in digital health technology in the WHO European Region. The findings show important differences in the 10 areas of equality, and the importance of promoting equality in the development and implementation of digital technologies in health to ensure that benefits are maximized and avoids the unexpected.

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The study warns that as many health care providers increasingly use digital health technologies to enable patients and the public to better manage their health, focusing on these technologies “may to make worse the injustice in health is not known, if it is known that it is wrong to access, use and participate in it. Digital technology is not looked at and solved.

Here are some possible solutions to these problems:

to find a common method to analyze digital health technology engagement across equity sectors;
mapping inequality in digital resources;
breaking down barriers to digital health;
finding the most effective ways to develop the digital skills of those who need it the most; and
communicates accessibility for people with disabilities or language barriers.

Local Digital Health Services Plan

The adoption and development of digital health systems can bring widespread benefits through more efficient and targeted healthcare. A fair and patient-centered approach at the center of the WHO/Europe Regional Digital Health Action Plan. WHO/Europe is supporting countries in the Region to build a repository of good practices, strengthen pathways for health equity and gender equality, and develop integrated solutions for monitoring and evaluating health policies and interventions.

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