Layered on top of these issues are disparities in access to technology, specifically broadband, which, in turn, affects the impact of technology in healthcare.
As a part of the American Jobs Plan, the White House has included the goal of bringing "affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband to every American, including the more than 35 percent of rural Americans who lack access to broadband at minimally acceptable speeds."
This is critical, as questions like connectivity issues, literacy and disability affect access to broadband—facts that make up the concept of the "digital divide."
The digital divide is the gap between those who have the literacy, ability, attitudes, language familiarity and access to technologies that facilitate health outcomes and the people who don't, according to PatientEngagmentHIT. This gap trickles down into disparities in access to telehealth, appointment scheduling and portal adoption.
A study out of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association reports that, during COVID-19, Black patients were four times as likely as white patients to access the emergency department instead of telehealth during early surges. These factors don't exist in a vacuum. People with language barriers often have to recruit the time and effort of children and family to schedule appointments and fill out forms. Those without transportation often do the same.