Health inequality is the result of people’s behavior. It is not the result of anything natural. It includes structural inequalities in the provision of care – inequalities that are avoidable.
Trying to redress health disparity is part of the job for Toni Land, head of the clinical healthcare experience at Medallia, a patient and customer experience management company.
“Advancing health equity is key to the future of health care because there is a significant opportunity for health care providers to improve and dismantle disparities and help people be their best selves,” Land believes.
We interviewed her to talk about why she believes this is the case, the relationship between telehealth and health equity, and how a hybrid future for telemedicine is important.
Question. Why do you believe that prioritizing health equity is key to the future of health care after the pandemic ends?
A. Providing resources and access to health care based on patient feedback and how they are able to engage with health care resources will ultimately allow the system to link equity and efficiency.
By providing equitable health care, health systems can become more efficient overall.
Question. Please explain how, as healthcare moves between the convenience and flexibility of telehealth and the physical engagements and interactions of office visits, the issue of health equity is growing?
A. The door to telehealth has finally opened and I don’t think it will ever go back to its original state. Now comes the challenge of finding the right balance. Where are the best places and spaces to use telehealth instead of or in addition to a doctor’s visit? The good news is that it doesn’t have to be all or none.
At a recent conference, a patient on a panel was grateful for the use of telehealth platforms during the pandemic, as it helped him continue therapy. His concern was to strike a balance between human encounters and virtual encounters. He wanted to make sure we were keeping the man in health care. It reminds me of the Beryl Institute’s philosophy of “people caring for people”.
Additionally, telehealth has the ability to increase access to care, especially in rural areas where there are often increased wait times and limited physician services.
By allowing patients to engage with healthcare providers in their preferred method, there is an opportunity to more actively and intentionally involve patients, families and team members in health practices and disease-targeted telehealth sessions.
As healthcare providers continue to navigate and find ways to improve the telehealth experience, we must be intentional about bringing all voices to the table. This feedback will be important for increasing patient engagement and engaging them in a way that produces positive outcomes.
Q. While the flexibility of telehealth is great for some, for a variety of reasons, it’s just not an option. Please talk about the future of hybrid care as you see it and why you think the future of healthcare lies in focusing on how patients would like to receive their care, providing them with the experiences they seek in digital landscapes and physical.
A. Technological equity—“techness”—is a complex issue involving disparities in access to and use of powerful learning tools due to differences in socioeconomic status, gender, skill level, racial and ethnic identification, geographic location, and condition. of disability.
This technology challenge affects access to health care and access to telehealth. Broadband has been identified as one of many social determinants of health. The ability for communities to have broadband and broadband at a speed that supports telehealth platforms can help improve health outcomes.
More than 14 million urban homes and nearly four million rural homes do not have broadband. People of color make up 75% of the unaffiliated population in urban counties.
This presents challenges for the delivery of telehealth services for those who would prefer this method of engagement. Many of these disconnected communities have additional social determinants, including limited access to transportation to engage in physical visits.
To create impactful experiences, healthcare providers must use equal listening. Equitable listening is the process of receiving, understanding, and responding in a way that is fair, impartial, and representative of those you serve.
Fundamental to operationalizing this concept is opening up multiple modes of response – one-way and two-way SMS, email, digital and mail are a few examples. This philosophy will be the same with telehealth, one size will not fit all. Health care providers will need options to meet the needs of the communities they serve.