Bridging the Digital Divide
Tactics to Address Patient Barriers to Virtual Care
Lack of Internet and broadband access prevents some patients from using telehealth and other technology that can support their own health care and getting accurate health care information. In one 2020 study, 42 million Americans lacked adequate access to broadband (high speed internet). As of 2019, about one in five people did not have smartphones, and among low income people nearly one third do not have a smartphone. Rates of computer ownership are not much better. Those patients who do have access to the technology may or may not have the capacity and willingness to use it, depending on past experiences. Some patients aren't comfortable with technology, while others don't trust it or believe that virtual care is sub-par, despite growing evidence of its benefits. This culminates in a clear digital divide that can hinder the ability for patients to fully engage in their care or take advantage of things like remote
patient monitoring, telehealth, mHealth, or patient portal.
This resource, available in the Documents to Download section below, provides an overview and some tips for assessing a patient's ability to engage with technology for virtual care, and and interventions that can be used to bridge gaps that are uncovered.