HHS Leverages Public Feedback to Advance Landscape Analysis on Emerging Technologies for Aging, Underserved Populations

Addressing inequities in healthcare delivery and service is crucial to achieving equitable healthcare for all populations. Underserved areas such as rural communities (when compared to urban areas) are characterized by a higher percentage of older adults, higher rates of all-cause mortality, and lower density of healthcare infrastructure.  Available evidence suggests that these poor health outcomes and inequities – further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic – are driven in part by social risk factors (e.g., the social determinants of health) and biological risk factors (e.g. older age and chronic disease).

While COVID-19 has had a profound impact in exacerbating healthcare inequities, it has provided opportunity to identify, develop, deploy, and evaluate innovative technological advances such as AI, 5G, biosensors, apps, and beyond that can improve health access and outcomes in older adults, especially those from underserved populations (e.g. low-income, Medicaid-eligible, and rural communities).

Against this backdrop of widening healthcare disparities and inequities, and in an effort to build upon previous federal efforts to leverage data and technology to improve patient outcomes, access, safety, quality, cost, and value for aging populations in underserved areas, OASH, in partnership with other federal agencies issued a request for information (RFI) to gain a comprehensive understanding of innovative efforts around chronic disease management for aging populations in underserved settings by leveraging technology-driven solutions. The responses – from a diverse set of external stakeholders including academia, hospital systems, insurers, and digital health firms among others – revealed opportunities to develop, operationalize, and scale innovation in healthcare delivery at the individual and population levels with several broad themes emerging:

  • Increase awareness, trust, and understanding around the products and social services available to patients is critical towards improving health outcomes.
  • Person-centered design remains critical to ensure increased adoption of solutions by older adults, given this group often experiences age-related physical, cognitive, and sensory deficits atypical of other population segments.
  • Solutions must be culturally and linguistically competent, accessible to individuals with varying levels of education attainment, digital literacy, healthcare fluency, and embedded with privacy and security safeguards tailored to an individual’s needs.
  • Insufficient knowledge and understanding of solutions can lead to disuse, distrust, and skepticism around the accuracy, effectiveness, and reliability of a solution.
  • Integration of novel solutions to existing clinical settings, platforms, and systems, along with complementary education and training of healthcare professionals (including caregivers) to ensure effective implementation.
  • Desirable infrastructure needs (e.g., broadband, mobile connectivity, hardware, etc.), associated costs, and lack of provision for end-user access pose significant barriers to the adoption of solutions.
  • Balkanized data standardization practices, proprietary electronic health record systems, and data sources that are not “linked” together via interoperability make it difficult to ensure high quality, accurate, and verifiable data is collected for analysis and evaluation.
  • Embedded within solutions should be principles of transparency, iterative improvements based on user-generated feedback, and validation by internal stakeholders and independent third parties.
  • Essential to minimizing bias and variance in AI-driven interventions and tools and boosting their subsequent fidelity, is the use of training datasets representative of the communities of interest.

Emerging technologies have a role to combat health disparities. Insights gathered from this RFI provide context to the policy and programmatic landscape in support of the design, development, deployment, and evaluation of these technologies in communities nationwide. While we share a few of the broad insights above, we continue to analyze the input from external stakeholders to help shape future federal efforts towards leveraging data and technology in service of our nation’s older Americans.

More from: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH)

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    What GAO Found Since January 2020, the Department of Defense (DOD) has developed a strategy to protect the health of military servicemembers from COVID-19, with a goal of minimizing risks while continuing operations. The strategy tailors protection measures to local conditions and risks to health and force readiness. GAO found that DOD's strategy applies several key considerations. DOD Application of Key Considerations to Protect Servicemembers from COVID-19 DOD officials oversee the implementation of the department's COVID-19 health protection strategy for servicemembers through: Sustained leadership attention. In January 2020, the Secretary of Defense initiated COVID-19 planning and established a senior task force to oversee the response. Combatant command and installation officials continuously evaluate regional and local implementation and perform compliance checks. Notwithstanding these efforts, DOD officials stated that they expect some limited incidents of personnel not following protocols. Data monitoring. Senior leaders and local commanders assess data on cases, community spread, and testing, among other metrics, to inform strategy implementation and assess its effectiveness. Lessons learned analyses. While these analyses are ongoing as the pandemic continues, DOD has implemented mitigations to address some challenges identified, such as a new system to collect more timely and specific COVID-19 case data. DOD has research and development projects underway to advance COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics and improve detection methods. DOD's investments include many projects that have specific applications for servicemembers, such as pre- and postexposure prophylactic treatments to prevent the onset of the disease. Why GAO Did This Study The COVID-19 pandemic poses risks to the health of U.S. servicemembers. Protecting forces from COVID-19 is therefore essential to DOD's ability to defend the United States, maintain warfighting readiness, and support the whole-of-government response to the pandemic. To help facilitate the COVID-19 pandemic response, Congress appropriated about $10.5 billion to DOD through the CARES Act. The CARES Act includes a provision for GAO to report on its ongoing monitoring and oversight related to the pandemic. GAO was also asked to examine the military health system response to COVID-19. This report examines, in regard to COVID-19, DOD's (1) strategy for protecting military servicemember health, (2) oversight of its strategy, and (3) research and development projects for vaccines, therapeutics, and testing. GAO reviewed guidance and plans for health protection and pandemic response that comprise DOD's strategy, and evaluated alignment of the strategy with key considerations from prior GAO work on pandemic preparedness. To identify oversight efforts, GAO reviewed DOD briefings on the progress of health protection measures, and analyzed 2020 DOD data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and testing. GAO also interviewed DOD leaders, officials from the military department medical organizations, combatant commands, and four military medical treatment facilities selected on the basis of military department and location. For more information, contact Brenda S. Farrell at (202) 512-3604 or farrellb@gao.gov.
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  • New Bankruptcy Filings Plummet 38.1 Percent
    In U.S Courts
    Bankruptcy filings dropped 38.1 percent for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2021, a dramatic fall that coincided with the coronavirus (COVID-19), which first disrupted the economy in March 2020. 
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken and Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide Before Their Meeting
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • Two Louisiana Return Preparers Plead Guilty to Tax Fraud Conspiracy
    In Crime News
    Two Louisiana tax preparers pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to defraud the United States, announced Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser for the Eastern District of Louisiana.
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  • Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Virtual Meeting with Japanese Business Leaders 
    In Crime Control and Security News
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    In Travel
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  • Identifying Organizations Engaged in Anti-Semitic BDS Activities
    In Crime Control and Security News
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  • U.S. Marshals Operation Results in Recovery of 27 Missing Children in Virginia
    In Crime News
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  • Six Arrested on Federal Charge of Conspiracy to Kidnap the Governor of Michigan
    In Crime News
    The Department of Justice today announced that six men have been arrested and charged federally with conspiring to kidnap the Governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer. According to a complaint filed Tuesday, October 6, 2020, Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta conspired to kidnap the Governor from her vacation home in the Western District of Michigan. Under federal law, each faces any term of years up to life in prison if convicted. Fox, Garbin, Franks, Harris, and Caserta are residents of Michigan. Croft is a resident of Delaware.
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  • Minnesota Man Charged with Providing Material Support to ISIS
    In Crime News
    Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers and U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald for the District of Minnesota today announced that Abdelhamid Al-Madioum, 23, of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, has been charged by indictment with providing material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), a designated foreign terrorist organization.
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