Sharing resources and improving IT knowledge

Because low connectivity and Health IT knowledge go hand-in-hand, interventions aimed at increasing both, have been developed (Perzynski et. al, 2017; Prieger, 2008). Redhook, in Brooklyn, is a free community wireless program that is based on mesh network technology. Evaluation researchers found RedHook to have drastically improved patient portal use; the percentage of vulnerable patients setting up their portal accounts jumped to almost 1 in 2 (Perzynski, 2017). Sustainability might be an issue though, beyond setting up a portal. When researchers looked at long-term, more involved use of the portal, they reported only 15% of patients used it to review test results and 13% to schedule appointments. Perzynski et al. (2017) reported solutions that include free Wi-Fi neighborhood cooperatives, and community-based skill development and training. One factor affecting the sustainability of such initiatives is funding. In contrast to the vast amounts of funding that are allocated through federal programs to models that leverage Telehealth as an integrative driving force in today’s fragmented healthcare (supra), there is limited funding for community-based interventions. Redhook's solution was free, thanks to the Open Technology Institute, which is the technology arm of New America, a DC-based think tank. OTI received a two million dollar grant from the U.S. department of State (because of the potential of mesh technology for the State Department). However, that is not something all similar programs have going for them. One way to ensure that interventions will address both connectivity and health IT knowledge is to fund education delivered by providers themselves or to incentivize health IT vendors and health systems to provide education to the populations their products serve.