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Reducing Intervention and Research-Induced Inequalities to Tackle the Digital Divide in Health Promotion

Konig LM, Krukowski RA, Kuntsche E, Busse H, Gumbert L, Gemesi K, Neter E, Mohamed NF, Ross K, John-Akinola Y, Cooper R, Allmeta A, Silva AM, Forbes CC, Western MJ. Reducing intervention- and research-induced inequalities to tackle the digital divide in health promotion. Int J Equity Health 2023;22(1):249. doi:10.1186/s12939-023-02055-6

This article summarizes discussions from an international expert workshop held in Kulmbach, Germany. The international representatives discussed the challenges facing the field of digital health in regards to social inequality. The primary goal was to outline global methods for improving digital health for all without widening already existing health disparities. Two main themes emerged during the workshop: intervention-induced inequalities and research-induced inequalities. To address intervention-induced inequalities the authors suggest supporting policy changes around healthcare costs, focusing on digital navigators, and expanding research on uptake and engagement cross-culturally. Generally, the goal is to make interventions cost-effective, user-friendly regardless of technology skill level, and accessible. To facilitate equality in research the authors suggest global use of online study registration platforms, including end users early in the intervention design process, diverse recruitment strategies including cross-cultural and language comparisons, and open access to results. Here, the ultimate aim is to increase diversity in research networks, promoting intersectional research and data sharing. Webpages maintaining summaries of recent research in digital health and healthcare-related areas are promoted as a critical method of preventing research waste and promoting collaborations. Without proper consideration of the above discussion points the authors reiterate that digital health research and interventions may widen rather than bridge existing health inequalities.


The Use of Virtual Reality in Mental Health Treatment

Article Excerpt: Virtual reality (VR) technology uses gadgets like headgear, gloves, or controllers to create interactive, lifelike representations of actual or imagined settings. Virtual reality has been used to a number of fields, including gaming, education, entertainment, and training. Virtual reality (VR) may, however, also be a very effective tool for treating mental health issues since it can improve the therapeutic connection, allow for good changes in behavior and the brain, and give realistic and regulated exposure to difficult circumstances.

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Article Source: Medium


Why Healthcare is the Perfect Place For AI to Shine

Article Excerpt: It’s become increasingly clear that, for AI to be of real service, data quality is just as important a consideration as data quantity. This is exactly why healthcare is the ideal partner for this technology — it offers a perfect combination of quantity and quality. To start, although healthcare has large quantities of unstructured data, much of the data in healthcare is standardized in the form of diagnostic, lab, medication, and procedural data. AI can handle both structured and unstructured material, but high-quality structured material works best for training, giving healthcare an advantage over other industries. That means healthcare is already starting in a better place than most other industries.

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Article Source: MedCityNews


Connected Healthcare Strategies to Boost Rural Access, Digital Equity

Article Excerpt: In the post-public health emergency (PHE) landscape, healthcare provider organizations are increasingly focused on incorporating and expanding hybrid, omnichannel, and connected models of care. These models leverage digital tools to enhance patient access and experience through capabilities like online scheduling, telehealth, and remote patient monitoring. However, organizations must ensure that medically underserved populations are not left behind, and health equity remains top-of-mind as connected healthcare efforts proliferate nationwide. At Xtelligent Healthcare Media’s 4th Annual Connected Health Virtual Summit in October, leaders from prominent health systems discussed these themes, delving into the opportunities and challenges of leveraging connected care efforts in underserved areas, as well as the importance of digital health equity and strategies for closing digital health gaps.

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Article Source: mHealth Intelligence


Dartmouth to Host Summit on Digital Therapeutics

Article Excerpt: The Center for Technology and Behavioral Health will host its second digital health summit on Oct. 25 at the Hanover Inn. The Clinically-Validated Digital Therapeutics: Innovations in Scientific Discovery, Clinical Applications, and Global Deployment event will gather experts from diverse sectors of the health care industry—researchers, providers, regulators, payers, and investors, as well as representatives from global pharma—to help shape a vision for making digital therapeutics accessible to all.

“The goal of the summit is to bring together a really broad group of stakeholders in the space of digital health, and have a shared dialogue about where are we at this moment in time and how we can work together to accelerate the pace at which we can get the most effective and most engaging tools into the hands of people all over the world,” says CTBH Director Lisa Marsch.

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Article Source: Dartmouth News

Telehealth Supports Retention in Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

Article Excerpt: Starting buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder through telehealth was associated with an increased likelihood of staying in treatment longer compared to starting treatment in a non-telehealth setting, according to a new study analyzing Medicaid data from 2019-2020 in Kentucky and Ohio. Published in JAMA Network Open, these findings add to a growing body of evidence demonstrating positive outcomes associated with the use of telemedicine for treatment of opioid use disorder.

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Article Source: NIDA News


Experts Discuss AI Use Across Fields at Conference

Article Excerpt: On Sept. 29, Dartmouth held its annual Artificial Intelligence Conference, hosting experts in art, banking, business, health and investment who discussed the applications of artificial intelligence and popular arguments against its use. Saeed Hassanpour — the Dartmouth Center for Precision Health and AI director — said at the event that artificial intelligence can aid health-related initiatives. He noted that AI “can sift through … a large amount of data in a small amount of time,” to predict outcomes of potential treatment options. Hassanpour added that he is currently working with AI to research cancer treatments. Lisa Marsch, Dartmouth Center for Technology and Behavioral Health director, discussed at the conference the benefits of AI in helping patients who are anxious to seek help. “Not everybody’s going to go seek a prescriber,” Marsch said. Marsch said that patients appreciate digital therapeutics, a term that refers to delivering a medical-grade intervention entirely through software, adding that FDA-approved prescriptions of software are now available in the U.S. She stressed the need for these low-stigma services and the “widespread availability of these devices.”

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Article Source: The Dartmouth


Black Women are Open to Mental Health Services Via Mobile Technology

Article Excerpt: Using survey data on patient attitudes toward mental health services and depression screening, a new study indicated that Black American Women are comfortable with using voice or video calls to communicate with mental health providers. Research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that about one in ten women in the United States have experienced depression symptoms within the last year. The study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR), also indicated that Black American women are commonly affected by depression. While discrimination, financial issues, and chronic conditions may contribute to this, various factors prevent Black women from obtaining care. These may include stigmatization, limited access, or insurance complications.

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Article Source: mHealth Intelligence


One-Third of ACOs Use Digital Health Tools to Treat Patients With OUD

Article Excerpt: A new study of accountable care organizations (ACOs) suggests the use of digital health tools is relatively uncommon when treating patients with opioid use disorder (OUD). When digital tools are used, they are generally seen as a complement to other treatment modalities, according to the report, which was published this month in JAMA Network Open. Digital health resources have been billed as a way to overcome some of the traditional barriers to OUD treatment, such as lack of transportation and the limited availability of trained mental health clinicians. However, the study authors said public health officials need to be mindful of equity concerns as they roll out digital health solutions, “including understanding the clinical settings in which they are offered.”

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Article Source: AJMC