Sunday, September 24, 2023

Contribution: The dissolution of Medicaid highlights the digital divide and creates urgency for accessible technology -Dlight News

Unfortunately, 2023 will be known as the year millions of Americans were disqualified from Medicaid. As States are resetting their Medicaid eligibility rules after the pandemic, faster “processing” out of the gate is seen as predicted.

Even if the public health emergency, which guaranteed continuous protection for those enrolled, is still there ended in May, As of July 21, 2023, 3,289,000 Medicaid recipients had been opted out. Many people lost their coverage for avoidable procedural reasons rather than eligibility reasons. To prevent millions more people across the country from experiencing coverage gaps—or worse, loss of coverage—there needs to be a solid understanding of the types of support, tools, and educational materials that are accessible and helpful to that particular population.

With all the innovations that the healthcare industry has seen in recent years, it’s tempting to take a tech-centric approach. Technology can transform healthcare, but it’s easy to overlook the simple barriers to technology and access that can mean life or death for too many people.

Studies have shown that low-income individuals and families—those most dependent on Medicaid for their health care—have below-average access to Internet services. In fact, more than one in six people living in poverty have no internet access. While initiatives like the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program– a $42.45 billion grant program created under the bipartisan Infrastructure Act – are proposed to close the “digital divide”, these solutions are a matter of the future. Many Medicaid participants need help now.

The most important thing Medicaid beneficiaries can do is update their contact information to avoid losing coverage due to administrative issues. The burden is squarely on the patient, as “snail mail” containing reminders does not always reach recipients, especially if they have moved during the pandemic. And if Medicaid registrants don’t have Internet access, they won’t get online reminders either. The bottom line is that there is a massive awareness issue that needs to be addressed along with the access issue.

Faced with these challenging hurdles, a redesign of the technology offering is a necessity. How can existing solutions be complemented with new ways to keep Medicaid participants informed about what’s happening, help them maintain coverage, and take advantage of the health technology tools available today?

Put knowledge into action

There are no “black and white” solutions when it comes to access issues, including Medicaid processing. However, when vendors accept that they are dealing with grayscale and take a more nuanced approach, technology can be used to make a difference, as illustrated by the following three insights and corresponding actions.

Insight #1: While overall Internet access among Medicaid participants is limited, a closer look reveals that lack of home Internet connectivity (e.g., broadband) is the real problem; Many people can access online resources (such as mobile broadband or cellular data) on their smartphones.

Online resources that explain how Medicaid registrants can update their state program information, fill gaps in coverage, and find alternate sources of care if they lose coverage are incredibly helpful—however, these platforms need to be optimized for mobile viewing rather than assuming registrants can view these resources on desktop. It’s also ideal to use short URLs that are easy to remember and type on a phone’s small keyboard.

Finding #2: Much of the Medicaid population is made up of communities of colorknow Trust in institutions such as government and healthcare professionals is often low. This is disheartening in view of what is happening with Medicaid, as these institutions are currently the primary sources of information. But there are individuals in these communities who can help.

Addressing the social determinants of health (defined as “the conditions in the environments in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning and quality of life outcomes and risks”) is key to improving health outcomes for low-income and disabled people. States have the authority to address SDOH through Medicaid. That means identifying resources to meet needs in housing, transportation, healthy eating and more.

Community-based organizations that respond to the needs of the population are typically led by individuals who have incredible knowledge of the people they serve and therefore enjoy a high level of trust. Not only can community leaders ensure that participants are provided with important information about maintaining Medicaid coverage, but they can also provide broadband internet access to ensure that digital tools from educational resources to telemedicine visits are available to the Medicaid population.

Some companies employ care navigators in low-income communities who come to people’s homes and bring Wi-Fi-enabled tablets. This is a very effective strategy to support healthcare technology deployment, as the Medicaid population is likely to benefit most from internet-based services such as telemedicine tend to develop more chronic diseases and have worse health outcomes than the general population and Additional points of contact with providers via telemedicine have the potential to solve this problem.

Insight #3: A hybrid approach is not only helpful when it comes to service delivery; It’s also a great way to provide educational content related to health.

As mentioned earlier, technology is having a major impact on opening up access to health care, but it is not the “end, that’s all” for consumers. One of the many takeaways from the pandemic is that the future of healthcare is likely to be hybrid in nature.

For example, telemedicine will not replace in-person care but will remain a mainstay of the system, opening the possibility for many more points of contact with patients, particularly those with chronic conditions that require consistent adherence to treatment plans. Educational content should be delivered in the same way, and online resources such as Medicaid information centers should be supplemented with newspaper advertisements, flyers, and events in communities with high numbers of Medicaid enrollments at risk of losing coverage.

In Washington, DC for example A public health campaign entitled “Don’t Wait to Update” is launched This also includes outreach through community events, as well as a toolkit that community organizations can use.

Healthcare stakeholders should keep working to bridge the digital divide. Yet even within the current system, they must work to develop short-term solutions that make health technology tools more accessible, because there is no innovative technology that can compensate for an individual’s lack of access to basic care through programs like Medicaid.

Doug Hirsch is the co-founder and Chief Mission Officer of the drug cost and telehealth company GoodRx. Hirsch was among the first 30 employees at Yahoo!, where he designed and led the first online communities, including GeoCities and Yahoo! Groups. He joined Facebook in 2005 as Vice President of Product. Hirsch later founded DailyStrength, a community for people facing health and life challenges. DailyStrength was acquired by HSW International in 2008.

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