Featured Post

Framing the Issue of the Digital Divide in Education

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Finding Partners in Addressing the Digital Divide: Health Care Providers

Finding Partners in Addressing the Digital Divide:  

Health Care Providers

School districts across the country face a variety of challenges with respect to students accessing resources from home.  At a recent conference, a representative from Chicago mentioned that many of their students who don't have home access attend local libraries.  Some urban and suburban districts have been adopting hotspot programs (Kajeet is an excellent provider of student hotspots) while rural districts have put wifi on buses for the long bus rides to and from school.

Increasingly, educators have come to the realization that home broadband access affects more than just a student's education.  Families that have internet access at home can fulfill other needs and access other services like job applications, government programs, and health care.  In a recent article on the digital divide in health care, author Mark Brohan discusses the use and lack of use of health care portals.  After reviewing data with respect to health care portal usage, specific patterns emerge which coincide with the digital divide in education.

Health care portal use, as one might suspect, reflects broadband internet connectivity rates in specific neighborhoods:   "In neighborhoods where 20% or fewer homes had a broadband connection the portal use rate was just 17.5% compared with 34.8% patient portal use where more than 80% of homes had broadband".  From a healthcare provider perspective, bridging the digital divide is an important way to increase efficiency.  More important, though, is the idea that access to advice, appointments, and labs leads to a greater health awareness and increased chance for wellness.   

Often large institutions and/or sectors don't often think of the connections between each other.  Certainly, both health care portals and schools have a vested interested in increasing connectivity for their patients/students.  Instead of addressing this issue alone, having health care providers, educational systems, and government agencies work together would decrease an overlap of efforts.  Urban, suburban, and rural areas all provide unique challenges which are complicated by geography, cost, and historical forces.  In the end, though, a focused effort of pooled resources and creative thinking would seem to have a much greater chance for success when addressing the digital divide.  

No comments:

Post a Comment