There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented an opportunity for accelerated digital transformation.
The past 18 months have seen an enormous uptick in interest and use of digital health tools, including those enabling telehealth, COVID-19 testing and data sharing, contact tracing and vaccine verification passes.
But as Dr. Patrice Harris points out, not every tool is appropriate for every person, or every situation.
Innovators can and should ask themselves: “What can we do to not be a one-size-fits-all solution, but be complementary to a cadre of solutions?” said Harris, past president of the American Medical Association and cofounder and CEO of at-home testing vendor eMed.
Harris spoke with Healthcare IT News about how the federal government and other stakeholders can support innovation, the best ways to ensure digital health tools don’t exacerbate disparities, and how eMed hopes to play a role in filling the COVID-19 at-home testing gap.
Q. As someone who’s been on the forefront of leadership in the healthcare industry, what are you most excited about right now in the world of digital health innovations?
A. For a long time, there has been a need to innovate. There are clearly a lot of problems in healthcare. And certainly if we look at the intersection of healthcare and innovation, there’s also a lot of promise.
There’s a lot of promise in early diagnostics, there’s a lot of promise in mental health. I think there’s a lot of promise in even public health, as we think about supporting those essential frontline health workers’ ability to contact-trace.
And, of course, telehealth has been around for a while, as you know, but certainly with COVID, there’s been a rapid acceleration of acceptance of care via digital health means.
There’s a lot of opportunity around removing barriers. We’ve seen barriers at every turn both pre- and post-COVID. And there’s a lot of promise in digital health and technology and virtual care, removing barriers to care.
So I see a lot of promise in the years to come.
Q. What can decisionmakers, including in the federal government, do to help support those innovations?
A. I characterize the opportunities for everyone – but certainly the federal government – as regarding funding, policy and regulation.
I am originally from West Virginia, and I went back to my hometown and traveled about an hour south, and there was not good broadband service. And so clearly, if we want …….