The rapid expansion of telehealth during the COVID-19 response has spotlighted the challenges of digital access for populations who have been marginalized. Communities of color and lower socioeconomic status are less likely to have access to internet and digital technologies (e.g., laptops, computers) to hold a proper telehealth visit in the home. Rural and urban communities who face barriers with broadband connectivity may rely on coverage for telephonic services to communicate with providers, and for people with disabilities, older adults, and non-English speakers, computer navigation and digital literacy remains an issue. These barriers make up the digital divide that continue to exacerbate disparities. This webinar will spotlight innovative interventions that improve digital equity and potentially lower health disparities.
1) Dr. Alexis Travis, Senior Deputy Director, Aging and Adult Services; Co-Speaker: Lawrence Kosick, GetSetUp Co-Founder
COVID-19 exacerbated an issue many older adults face: social isolation. Social isolation in older adults is a serious public health risk affecting a significant number of people in the United States and putting them at risk for dementia and other serious medical conditions. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ partnership with GetSetUp offers an online platform and community that helps older adults enjoy more fulfilling, independent, healthy, and socially connected lives through learning. GetSetUp is helping older Michiganders bridge the digital divide. Additionally, the platform creates economic opportunity through jobs and re-skilling. Learn more about this partnership, its impact on older adults, and how it helped thousands of older Michiganders remain healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2) Craig Settles, Industry Analyst, Expert Broadband Business Strategist
Craig Settles views telehealth as the ‘Killer App’ that can close the digital divide because everyone experiences illness or cares for someone who is ill. Every home that telehealth touches must have good broadband. Telehealth technology and broadband in the home provide avenues for other home-based technology services that can improve quality of life, such as companion distance-learning apps, a home business app, and home entertainment apps. Are communities ready to make the commitment to close the divide? Learn more about the pilot project that introduces urban communities to telehealth services at barbershops and hair salons to screen for hypertension, leading to increased broadband and telehealth access.
3) Rose Jones, Director, Division of Elderly Affairs; Maureen Maigret, Consultant, Long Term Health Care and Aging Services
The DigiAGE program is a partnership between the Rhode Island Office of Healthy Aging and industry, government, and community leaders that aims to bridge the digital divide for older adults by linking them to technology and virtual opportunities that keeps them connected by increasing their access to digital devices, expanding internet services for older adults, and providing them with training programs.