Advancing Equitable Access to Digital Solutions Through Evidence Generation

By Dr. Lindsay Sears
VP of evidence generation
One Drop

Today, six in ten U.S. adults have at least one chronic condition; four in 10 have two or more. As rates of diabetes, heart disease, and preventable illnesses continue to rise, the market has become increasingly crowded with digital health startups and legacy companies competing to address the crisis; the global digital health industry should reach USD 295.4 billion by 2028. The digital transformation of healthcare is well underway, but the success of emerging solutions hinges on clinical rigor and equitable design, development, and implementation of digital health. 

Clinical evidence is not optional for digital health companies

Consumers and employers alike seem to have endless options to choose from for digital health and well-being programs. So, what sets one solution apart from another? Clinical evidence of effectiveness. At its core, people need to know what we are using works as described. 
We’ve seen how easy it can be for companies to present lackluster outcomes in ways that make them appear to be better than they may actually be. That’s why diligent digital health companies must adopt robust published methodologies and have results vetted and approved through third-party validation organizations like Validation Institute and submitted for publication in peer-reviewed journals and presentations at scientific meetings. Experts who review evidence understand the nuances involved with an evaluation and have full transparency into the timing, population, and nature of the data collected. 
To safeguard against common errors associated with real-world data collection, companies should rely on accurate remote sensing devices and follow clinical data cleaning and analysis guidelines from trusted institutions like American Diabetes Association and American Heart Association. Ultimately, reliable data sources, external validation, and the scientific publication process offer consumers and decision-makers a level of assurance and trustworthiness. 

TechQuity: Digital health must help close the equity gap

Despite advances in the fight for equality, implicit biases and discrimination persist within traditional healthcare. Now, in the digital health age, they have emerged in new technologies and negatively impact those with the greatest need. 
It’s not enough to demonstrate a digital health solution is clinically effective for the majority. At a minimum, digital health solutions must be accessible and effective for people from racial and ethnic minority groups who experience, on average, lower quality and access to care, higher rates of illness, and increased mortality. 
A growing number of mission-driven companies are joining the TechQuity movement, prioritizing equity and social justice in product design, development, and implementation. For example, at One Drop, we developed and published a position on how we plan to use evidence generation efforts to support health equity and access in the industry. Only through decisive, expansive, and collective action can we advance TechQuity and ensure digital health solutions are inclusive, accessible, and effective for everyone. 
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