We spoke with Dr. Megan Jones Bell and Dr. Ivor Horn, from Google, to find out how technology can aid in the advancement of health literacy and accessibility to care for patients.
Dr. Horn believes that technology is going to transform healthcare. It can help to remove the inequity of healthcare with everyone having access to healthcare. There is a focus on how to build health equity into the DNA of the products offered through technology at Google.
Dr. Bell discussed that investment has been a major player in the adaption of technology for behavioral healthcare. It has allowed the connection between services and bridged different levels of care across the spectrum. Another major player was the regulation of digital health apps. The regulation took time and is ever-changing, but that is a key shift that should be recognized.
Consolidations have also been a large part of the expansion of digital tech for behavioral health. Companies that have horizontally or vertically combined and cover more diagnostic conditions or comorbidities have brought the transition of behavioral healthcare into focus with investment and a priority of the expansion of digital behavioral health technology. These big changes are making sure that digital behavioral health care actually gets into the hands of people.
Dr. Bell discussed how the realization that the progress over these apps and platforms is an actual person’s life and progress helps to drive the tech and help engage with patients clinically.
The goals of the team at Google include providing access to high-quality information and resources. Google tries to analyze how users interact with searches, YouTube, Fitbit, the Google Assistant, and assess the different points of potential intervention for them. Google is trying to see how they can combine different aspects of care to support people and resources together. They want to assure that their products and services are equitable. Google wants to make sure that they are inclusive and that they are covering disparities. They incorporate the possibilities of disparities into every aspect of their products. Recently, they included the capability of finding a doctor who speaks their language and takes their insurance. This is just another way that Google is increasing its inclusivity in its products.
Dr. Horn gave the example that when there is a search for food, they want to make sure that the search populates not just restaurants, but also food pantries and affordable grocery stores. Another example was on the search for medical care to find out if they are covered under different insurances, Medicare, and Medicaid. Recently, they included the capability of finding a doctor who speaks their language and takes their insurance. These methods of inclusivity assure that all persons' needs are met appropriately within the Google ecosystem. They continue to adapt by thinking about those whose needs they are not meeting, by creating high-quality, evidence-based information and resources, and by bringing that information to the people who need it. It really is a matter of meeting people where they are with the care that they need.