A lens on health equity in digital health: Unlocking the innovation opportunity

Over the past decade, digital health has experienced significant growth followed by a noticeable slowdown. Investment deceleration and the increasing commoditization of digital health products have contributed to this market shift. Alongside these challenges is the persistent issue of addressing the diverse needs of all population groups, especially those facing entrenched health disparities. Despite digital health’s potential to expand access and enhance personalized care, substantial missed business opportunities remain, which include the risk of perpetuating systemic inequities.

The opportunity

Health disparities contribute to an estimated $93B in excess medical care costs. Noting this, equitable solutions are increasingly becoming a priority for those responsible for payment. This is evidenced by the behaviors of consumers paying out-of-pocket and the investments made by government and employer-sponsored health plans. This has created unique opportunities in both fee-for-service models and emerging value-based payment models, where metrics around reach and impact on a diverse array of communities are being centered. As the business imperative for health equity gains traction, leaders are navigating how digital health innovations can effectively address equity gaps for specific populations, amidst lingering biases in investment decisions and the continued emergence of industry-leading proof points.

Advancing health equity innovation in digital health

Recognizing the opportunity, RockHealth.org launched the Advancing Health Equity Innovation in Digital Health initiative to highlight the scaling of equity-focused digital health solutions and their impact on underserved populations.

Building upon our existing initiatives—Equitable Investments and Responsible Design—this project engaged nine expert advisors who are collaborating closely with the RockHealth.org team to emphasize the importance of health equity-centered solutions that reach persistently overlooked populations. Our expert advisors include:

Our findings

Emerging from our work with these leaders, the RockHealth.org team has identified three pivotal opportunity areas to accelerate the impact and growth of equity-centered digital health solutions:

  1. Building trust and adoption: Fostering trust and adoption among overlooked population groups is paramount for expanding market reach
  2. Embracing responsible design practices: Human-centered design principles are essential for creating solutions that resonate with diverse users, fostering inclusivity and effectiveness
  3. Expanding market reach: Companies that can effectively serve overlooked markets hold significant growth potential, yet remain largely untapped

There are also a number of communities that have engaged with digital health products at an increasing rate, even without solutions that have been actively developed for their unique needs. In the report, we explore how specific communities are currently interacting with digital health products, how leaders can serve these populations, and examples of organizations already reaching these groups. The “Community Spotlights” are illustrative and intended to support communities in a position to benefit from digital health innovation in the near-term, including older adults, rural populations, and Black and Latine digital health consumers.

For more of our findings, please read RockHealth.org’s latest publication, “A Lens on Health Equity in Digital Health: Unlocking the Innovation Opportunity.

Our invitation

By prioritizing equity in both design and practice, businesses can not only tap into new markets but also drive sustainable growth and enhance outcomes for all communities. This commitment to equity isn’t just a moral imperative—it’s a strategic and financial imperative for shaping the future of healthcare.

As such, we encourage digital health innovators to reflect on the following questions:

  • What are the greatest opportunities and challenges in equity-focused digital health innovations?
  • Which communities offer untapped markets, and which risk being left behind?
  • What is the distinct role of digital health innovations in addressing health inequities, and what are the associated market opportunities and risks?

We are excited to share this work with the field and look forward to exploring potential collaboration opportunities with others who are committed to advancing complementary efforts. Please reach out to the RockHealth.org team at hello@rockhealth.org.

Join us in building a more equitable future at RockHealth.org.

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