Join CardioNerds Co-Founder Dr. Dan Ambinder, Dr. Nino Isakadze (EP Fellow at Johns Hopkins Hospital), Dr. Karan Desai (Cardiology Faculty at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins Bayview) join Digital Health Expert, Dr. La Princess Brewer (Associate Professor of Medicine Mayo Clinic Rochester) for another installment of the Digital Health Series. In this specific episode, we discuss how digital health can both reduce and amplify health disparities. This series is supported by an ACC Chapter Grant in collaboration with Corrie Health. Notes were drafted by Dr. Karan Desai. Audio editing was performed by student Dr. Shivani Reddy.
In this series, supported by an ACC Chapter Grant and in collaboration with Corrie Health, we hope to provide all CardioNerds out there a primer on the role of digital heath in cardiovascular medicine. Use of versatile hardware and software devices is skyrocketing in everyday life. This provides unique platforms to support healthcare management outside the walls of the hospital for patients with or at risk for cardiovascular disease. In addition, evolution of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and telemedicine is augmenting clinical decision making at a new level fueling a revolution in cardiovascular disease care delivery. Digital health has the potential to bridge the gap in healthcare access, lower costs of healthcare and promote equitable delivery of evidence-based care to patients.
This CardioNerds Digital Health series is made possible by contributions of stellar fellow leads and expert faculty from several programs, led by series co-chairs, Dr. Nino Isakadze and Dr. Karan Desai.
Pearls and Quotes
- Digital redlining occurs when a particular group has limited access to key services based on race and ethnicity, perpetuating inequities. Throughout this podcast episode, Dr. Brewer emphasizes how community engagement early in the creation of digital health technologies can mitigate structural inequities.
- Dr. Brewer spoke about methods to develop innovative digital health tools that are culturally sensitive and inclusive, specifically community-based participatory research (CBPR). In CBPR, community members are partners with researchers in each step of the intervention.
- While certain individuals and communities may have physical access to digital health tools, they still may remain inaccessible for several reasons.
- In this episode, we focus on achieving digital health equity and how the very technologies meant to reduce health disparities can widen them. We started by discussing a paper from Dr. Brewer and colleagues that crystallized how digital health disparities can occur with the example of Pokémon Go. As described in this paper, this mobile application was one of the most used applications worldwide. It incentivized users to collect virtual goods at various physical locations termed PokéStops. For public health professionals, this mobile app represented an engaging way to promote physical activity amongst users. However, some racial and ethnic minority groups in low-income, urban areas quickly took notice of the lack of PokéStops within their neighborhoods. As researchers noted, this could be considered examples of digital redlining, or limiting a particular group from key services based on race and ethnicity. As Dr. Brewer notes in the paper, the Pokémon Go developers relied on maps that were crowdsourced from a majority white male demographic. While it may not have been deliberate, the development process created a structural digital inequity placing certain communities at a home-court disadvantage. Throughout this podcast episode, Dr. Brewer emphasizes how community engagement early in the creation of digital health technologies can mitigate structural inequities.
- Dr. Brewer spoke about methods to develop innovative digital health tools that are culturally sensitive and inclusive, specifically community-based participatory research (CBPR). In CBPR, community members are equal partners with researchers and included at every phase of the project (or development of a digital health tool. Learn more about CBPR from Dr. Brewer and her FAITH! application by listening to our Narratives in Cardiology Series with Episode #131. As demonstrated by in Dr. Brewer’s own research and digital health tool creation, early and consistent community involvement led to high recruitment and retention rates of study participants (100% and 98%, respectively).
- We also discussed that one of the misunderstood aspects of the discussion around digital health equity is the concept of access. Access can mean many different things including broadband internet infrastructure or internet-enabled devices. But even if the infrastructure is available – as Dr. Brewer has noted in her research for instance, African Americans have similar smartphone ownership to the general populations – digital health tools may be inaccessible because digital health interventions are not tailored to specific populations
- Brewer LC, Fortuna KL, Jones C, Walker R, Hayes SN, Patten CA, Cooper LA. Back to the Future: Achieving Health Equity Through Health Informatics and Digital Health. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth. 2020 Jan 14;8(1):e14512.
- Brewer LC, Hayes SN, Jenkins SM, Lackore KA, Breitkopf CR, Cooper LA, Patten CA. Improving cardiovascular health among African-Americans through mobile health: the FAITH! app pilot study. J Gen Intern Med. 2019 Aug;34(8):1376–8.
- Brewer LC, Jenkins S, Lackore K, Johnson J, Jones C, Cooper LA, Breitkopf CR, Hayes SN, Patten C. mHealth intervention promoting cardiovascular health among African-Americans: recruitment and baseline characteristics of a pilot study. JMIR Res Protoc. 2018 Jan 31;7(1):e31.
- Israel BA, Schulz AJ, Parker EA, Becker AB. Review of community-based research: Assessing partnership approaches to improve public health. Annu Rev Public Health. 1998;19:173–202.
- Weinstein JN, Geller A, Negussie Y, Baciu A. Communities in Action: Pathways to Health Equity. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2017.