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J Public Health Policy. 2016 Nov;37(Suppl 2):154-166.

Population health-based approaches to utilizing digital technology: a strategy for equity.

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Aetna Foundation, Aetna Inc., 151 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, CT, 06156, USA.
Aetna Foundation, Aetna Inc., 151 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, CT, 06156, USA.


Health care disparities and high chronic disease rates burden many communities and disproportionally impact racial/ethnic populations in the United States. These disparities vary geographically, increase health care expenses, and result in shortened lifespans. Digital technologies may be one tool for addressing health disparities and improving population health by increasing individuals' access to health information-especially as most low-income U.S. residents gain access to smartphones. The Aetna Foundation partners with organizations to use digital technologies, including mobile applications, data collection, and related platforms, for learning and sharing. Projects range from the broad-childhood education, lifestyle modification, health IT training, and nutrition education, to the specific-local healthy foods, stroke rehabilitation, and collection of city-level data. We describe our approaches to grantmaking and discuss lessons learned and their implications. When combined with sound policy strategies, emerging, scalable, digital technologies will likely become powerful allies for improving health and reducing health disparities.


digital technology; grantmaking; health IT; health disparities; health equity; mHealth; philanthropy

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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