Underfunded Infrastructure Impact on Health Equity

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Category: White Papers

Executive Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the injustice of inadequate access to broadband internet – a disparity known as the “Digital Divide” – and intensified calls to address persistent health disparities for rural and underserved populations exacerbated by the divide. Remote health solutions, such as telehealth, can help bridge the divide but there are barriers to access including basic digital literacy and limited access to hardware and software that allow for tech-enabled connections. This paper draws on extensive research to lay out key issues that perpetuate the Digital Divide, identify opportunities and approaches that could help improve the situation, and present resources to support a path forward. The time is right for this research and conversation, as newly authorized infrastructure spending presents an opportunity for government entities and partners to focus more on equitable healthcare solutions. Utilizing public and private funds and expertise, we can advance a holistic approach to care – led by health advocates from local communities – for the best chance to successfully expand remote health access to rural and other underserved communities and improve both equitable access to care and health outcomes.