Mobile tech to end health disparities

Aetna Foundation's Garth Graham: Digital health 'a powerful equalizer'

The growing use of technology presents healthcare organizations with the opportunity to reduce healthcare disparities by helping minorities manage their health, physician Garth Graham, president of the Aetna Foundation, wrote this week in a Huffington Post blog post. Given that cell phone owners who are Latino, African American or ages 18 to 49 are more likely than other groups to obtain health information from their smartphones, the Aetna Foundation is looking to use mobile technology to meet those populations where they are.

"We believe that digital health technology can serve as a powerful equalizer for improving health education and access to care among minority and low-income communities by reaching people where they are spending time--at school, at church, in their neighborhoods and on-the-go with real-time solutions that easily fit into their daily lives," Graham said last week in an announcement of $1.2 million grants to support mobile health among vulnerable and minority groups.

To integrate mobile healthcare solutions into the daily lives of underserved populations, the Aetna Foundation, for example, is supporting a two-way text faith-based messaging campaign targeting 19- to 55-year-old African American women. It's managed by local health ministers. "Three different communities will kick-start healthier lifestyles, increase access and improve overall health and wellness with actionable exercise, wellness, disease prevention and lifestyle change-related messaging tailored to both their culture and individual needs," Graham wrote.

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