The White House is asking for examples of digital community health programs in the U.S. and abroad.
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is looking to develop digital health care services that emphasize equity in treatment by tapping members of local communities, such as social workers, religious organizations, community health centers, telehealth practitioners and peer recovery specialists.
Posted in a request for information in the Federal Register, officials at the OSTP “are seeking information and comments about how digital health technologies are used, or could be used in the future, to improve community health, individual wellness and health equity.”
The RFI is specifically looking for examples among various digital community health care systems on which to model forthcoming technology, and asks for input on features like metric strategies, barriers, scale recommendations, cost projections, user experiences and more.
While the exact parameters of the technology aren’t specifically listed, the RFI is part of OSTP’s broader Community Connected Health initiative, designed to integrate quality health care into underserved communities.
“We have learned from the pandemic about the advantages of health technologies, including telemedicine, in delivering health care,” an OSTP staffer told Nextgov. “But we’ve also learned a lot about the shortcomings of the technology and the disparities in access to it. OSTP will be launching the Community Connected Health initiative to support policies that capitalize on the power of technology without losing sight of the importance of in-person interactions and communities.”
The OSTP staffer explained that local health care providers and other counselors have been “critical resources” over the course of the pandemic. Moving forward, the Community Connected Health program looks to bolster those groups with updated technology.
Some of the digital health technologies OSTP will be looking for could be related to remote patient monitoring devices, health trackers, electronic health record technology and mobile health apps that run on devices like smartphones or tablets.
At the heart of the new digital health care service is a telehealth component that can work in remote settings amid the pandemic and technology that connects people with health data and information.
Motivating OSTP’s search for a model for a digital health care service is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its continued exacerbation of disparities in access to health care, which are often rooted in socioeconomic inequity.