Digital Health Solutions for Vulnerable Populations

The Digital Health Solutions for Vulnerable Populations Initiative will serve as a national resource of innovation dedicated to the advancement and practical application of digital health solutions that address public health and population health needs among vulnerable populations. The goal of the Digital Health Solutions for Vulnerable Populations Initiative (Initiative) is to obtain measurable improvement of the health and well-being of underserved communities through digital technology-enabled solutions. The Initiative will achieve this goal by supporting the design, development, implementation, evaluation and promotion of innovative digital health solutions and best practices in conjunction with end-users. The mission of the Initiative is to advance the impact of digital health in achieving the objectives of the Triple Aim for the benefit of vulnerable populations. The Initiative is a core component of the Population Health Innovation Lab (PHIL) of the Public Health Institute (PHI) and coordinated (OR in coordination) with the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS – University of California).

This project includes three program thrusts:

    1. Activity 1- Community Engagement Listening Sessions – Developing a core understanding of digital health solutions for high-risk, vulnerable populations through rapid cycle, targeted focus groups of representative community stakeholders throughout the US.
    2. Activity 2- Digital Health Solution Best Practices for Vulnerable Populations – Identifying and assembling a catalog of emerging digital health solutions for at-risk vulnerable populations that support prevention, health and wellness, and management of chronic disease.
    3. Activity 3 Dissemination – Promotion of program products, findings developed through community listening sessions, and technology best practices.

The Digital Health Solutions for Vulnerable Populations Initiative addresses population health inequities through the design and development of innovative digital solutions for chronic non-communicable disease management and prevention with vulnerable communities and organizations embedded in those communities, and the dissemination of findings, applications, and evidence of success. The Initiative targets technology solutions that support health care providers and families, with the ultimate goal being the health and well-being of patients and people at-risk for disease. The unique value add of the Initiative is the focus on user-centered solutions designed to reach at-risk vulnerable populations. Efforts to advance digital health technologies writ large are extensive, but what is currently missing from the field are customized approaches for marginalized populations who are disproportionately high-risk and high-cost. Through listening sessions that engage target end-users, developers will be able to better understand how to design new solutions within the unique social and cultural context of traditionally disenfranchised populations. The design and development of new solutions will take into account the broader social determinants of poor health outcomes (i.e. poverty, housing, food access, etc.)

The Initiative will serve as a national resource for the identification, development, evaluation, and promotion of digital health technologies that advance population health among vulnerable populations. The Initiative leverages PHI’s experience working on prevention strategies with a variety of low income, racially and ethnically diverse communities and CITRIS and PHI staff expertise in technology-enabled solutions and experience in disseminating digital health technology research, tools (i.e., Center for Innovation and Technology in Public Health (CITPH) and Center for Technology and Aging (CTA)), and resources from across the US. The Initiative is intended to provide national leadership in advancing the knowledge base, technical tools, and capacity of public health and other community-based providers in applying state-of-the-art digital solutions to support vulnerable populations.

© 2015 The Center for Innovation and Technology in Public Health