Initiative aims to leverage technology in mitigating healthcare disparities

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and the Connected Health Initiative (CHI) have launched the Health Equity and Access Leadership (HEAL) Coalition, a multi-sector initiative to create recommendations on the greater use of technology, including AI, to mitigate long-standing health disparities amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Areas of concentration will include resources, policy advocacy, research and education.

HEAL’s first major project will be the creation of a white paper containing policy and operational recommendations to help best deploy novel health technologies, according to a joint announcement.

In addition to AI, examples of the types of tools being explored include wearables, remote monitoring, clinical decision support and telehealth.

While the COVID crisis has impacted all demographic groups, it is placing the weightiest burdens on minorities and other individuals with limited access to services, the groups point out.

For example, data published in August by the CDC revealed that COVID-related hospitalization rates were roughly five times higher among several nonwhite racial and ethnic groups. Rates of COVID-19 deaths among Black or African American non-Hispanic persons were more than twice those of white non-Hispanic persons.

“The rise of digital health technology gives us a unique opportunity to help advance health equity, improve access to care, increase health care quality and lower costs,” Rene Quashie, CTA’s vice president of digital health, says in the announcement. “Disparities in health have long been an issue in the U.S., and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exposed those gaps. With greater use and adoption of technology, we can help reduce inefficiencies and provide more personalized care for marginalized patients and consumers.”