The unprecedented investment in digital mental health services in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic has led to tremendous opportunity to drive flexibility, accessibility and diversity in healthcare through virtual platforms. There’s great optimism that digital solutions will democratize mental healthcare with a scalability that can reach diverse populations, according to Syneos Health experts.
It is well known that not all patients can access technology equally–bandwidth, location, privacy concerns, age and other factors can be exclusionary. In mental health, the issue of access is not only apparent, but also growing. Meeting more people where they are in their mental healthcare journeys online will require flexibility, accessibility, community and education. In thinking through barriers resulting from the digital divide, many barriers are remediable with a concerted, cross-industry effort.
Flexibility, Accessibility, Community, Education (FACE): Ways to Meet the Patient Community Where They Are
Solution creators must provide innovations that improve healthcare services online. The secret is focusing on end-to-end community engagement, better diversity and inclusion practices, improved access to technology and efforts to build trust in digital healthcare.
Realizing the promise and potential of digital mental health solutions and addressing discrepancies on all levels of the digital divide, mental healthcare services are aided when teams consider the following while developing a plan:
- Leverage best practices from the disciplines of patient engagement in pharmaceutical and user-design to involve end users throughout the care process to instill trust and educate for better results
- Strive for representation, adequate funding and clear priorities—three pillars in all Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) initiatives
- Advance strategies to address all aspects of the digital divide—Internet access, functionality, digital health literacy and trust—with both patients and providers, to build resources for education and customer service
is your organization considering how access and diversity are impacting patient outcomes? Visit our Patient Voice Consortium to explore more on this topic.