Prof. Diane Levin-Zamir, PhD, MPH, MCHES
When Health Literacy meets Innovation for reducing disparities in a universal healthcare system; from digital divide to digital development
In many countries across the globe, communication with the patients and the public is increasingly becoming digital. This trend has great advantages, among them bringing health information and navigation directly into homes, allowing for personal data to be stored and then accessed for the benefit of the patient, increased efficiency, creating big data for analysis and technology development and more. Yet, digitalization creates demands of the public with regard to digital health literacy – the ability to seek, find, understand, and appraise health information from electronic sources and apply the knowledge gained to addressing or solving a health problem. Until recently, the phrase coined: ”digital divide” has been used to highlight the disparities in the public regarding the use of mobile phones, the skills needed to manage health and healthcare in a digital world and more, where large groups were assumed to have been left behind. An asset- based approach to understanding digital health literacy would see that the disparities can be reduced by using digital tools to empower the patient and the public with regard to their health. Examples and case studies demonstrating innovation in both the public health system and in universal healthcare systems throughout the lifespan will be presented from Israel and other countries. Topics to be presented include intervention and action dealing with vaccine resistance, living with chronic health conditions, promoting cultural appropriateness of the health system and adopting the approach that health literacy is a human right. In summary, a shift from “digital divide” to “digital development” will be proposed. Finally, future areas for research, practice, policy and collaboration will be recommended.