Addressing Social Determinants of Health through Functional Design and the Human Touch

This blog was originally published by ATA on July 22, 2021.

Healthcare inequities are well documented by study data highlighting the disparities in health outcomes among communities of color, the poor, and the medically underserved. We know these disparities are associated with worsening health outcomes for these populations. COVID-19 has shined a spotlight on this pervasive problem in our society. The dramatic differences in outcomes experienced by vulnerable and underserved communities to this virus has brought this to the forefront of public discourse.

VitalTech® believes that a central tenant of a truly comprehensive virtual care platform is addressing these inequities. We strive to improve health literacy and tackle some of the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) by integrating the human touch with functional technology design.

VitalCare Interface and Telehealth Conference.

Functional Technology Design

VitalCare is designed from the ground up to be the most comprehensive digital care platform in the market. Its form and function are designed for ease of use to create a seamless, simple user experience for all patients regardless of technical literacy.

  1. VitalCare’s user interface highlights bright visual colors, large icons and an intuitive user design allowing patients to easily navigate across modules; vital signs, nutrition, medication management, questionnaires, surveys, video calling, messaging, and patient education and engagement tools.
  2. The platform supports most languages reducing the impact of health literacy for non-English speaking patients and their families.
  3. VitalCare offers a comprehensive set of education and engagement tools. These tools support both the patient and their families. Through a single interface, users access educational content, emotional support, how-to instructions and videos, their patient record, their care plan, and any additional content configured by the health system.
  4. The architecture is flexible and scalable to support 3rd party integrations, including over 50 EHR’s.

The Human Touch

Pre-Covid, providers were slow to adopt virtual care. Post COVID-19, we were forced to quickly shift from brick-and-mortar care to remote virtual care. VitalTech has taken this opportunity to examine the impacts of the digital divide and define where the human touch can support the adoption of digital technologies in vulnerable and underserved communities.

  1. VitalTech’s tech enabled care navigators support patients and their caregivers to better outcomes and deliver more equitable care. This personalized support adapts to the different needs of each patient demographic and encourages patients and caregivers to take charge of their own health and well-being.
  2. Health systems can create clinical mediated ‘Community Groups’ based on personal interests, recreational activities, disease states, emotional support, social isolation, caregiver support, etc. With this customized approach, providers can tailor programs that tackle their most urgent needs, helping to lower overall costs of care.
  3. Another significant and often overlooked problem in healthcare is caregiver isolation and burnout. With the VitalCare Family Connect App, caregivers can receive emotional support and care plan inclusion to better support the patient. Customizable security measures allow caregivers to work with clinicians, case workers, physicians, dieticians, and physical therapists. This inclusion lowers the fears and anxieties caregivers often face when caring for their loved ones at home.
  4. Patient technical support is another key component to VitalCare’s virtual care strategy. This seemingly simple step can cause a patient’s journey to fail before it gets a proper start. Technical support must be able to quickly troubleshoot broadband issues, address mobile and medical device inexperience, and support language and reading barriers along with many other gaps in health literacy all while being caring and sympathetic to a patient in distress.

Broadband Access

The American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) identified broadband as a key social determinant of health in 2017. VitalTech has formed a strategic partnership with AT&T, offering a combined solution to both companies’ customers. FirstNet, a first responder network, born out of 911, is a federally mandated broadband network. It provides 24/7 priority access to data, expands available coverage areas, and hosts end-to-end data encryption for additional safety and security.

With AT&T and the FirstNet network, VitalTech is able to provide its virtual care solution to patients and caregivers without the risk of disruptions in service.

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