The COVID-19 pandemic has fast-tracked the uptake of digital health products, revolutionising how we access information and utilise services. However, it's crucial to acknowledge that not everyone enjoys equal access to these digital tools, leading to an emerging problem known as digital exclusion. In this article, we'll explore the concept of digital exclusion in healthcare, emphasise its impact, and discuss Surgery Hero's ambitions to tackle this issue.
Digital exclusion refers to the absence of access to or expertise in utilising digital technologies. Below are some key aspects of digital exclusion in healthcare:
In healthcare, digital exclusion can exacerbate existing health inequalities, hindering people's ability to access crucial services. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals that around 7.4 million adults in the UK had low digital skills in 2020 (and roughly 31.8 million adults in the US), posing challenges when accessing health information, scheduling appointments, or participating in telemedicine consultations.
Digital exclusion carries significant consequences for individuals' health outcomes and healthcare systems as a whole. Limited digital access or skills can lead to deferred access to healthcare services and delayed diagnoses, contributing to widening health inequalities. Furthermore, vulnerable populations like the elderly, lower-income communities, and people with disabilities face a disproportionate impact of digital exclusion.
True inclusivity is still a work in progress, but we firmly believe that closing the digital gap in healthcare is crucial for promoting fair access to services like Surgery Hero. Through partnership and collaboration, we aim to create a healthcare system that harnesses digital technologies to benefit everyone, regardless of their digital capabilities.