Webinar Wednesday - Impact of digital health on health inequities for racialized communities in Ontario

Healthcare1/17/2024 5:00 PM

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The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a rapid shift towards digital health solutions to address healthcare challenges, offering virtual access to a range of services including contact tracing, public health updates, virtual care, mental health support, and vaccine booking. While digital technologies helped mitigate virus spread, their unintended impact on health equity, particularly for marginalized racialized low-income communities, emerged as a parallel concern. This research investigates the influence of digital health adoption on pre-existing inequities among racialized Ontarians, utilizing a qualitative literature review. The study examines healthcare structures, socio-economic factors, and assesses the 2019 Digital First for Health Strategy's impact on health equity. COVID-19 policies and digital tools are analyzed for their effect on racialized populations, revealing existing gaps. Despite public funding, Ontario's healthcare system remains unequal, disproportionately affecting racialized communities during the pandemic due to discriminatory policies and inaccessible digital solutions. Pre-pandemic analysis confirms long-standing health inequities, with socio-economic factors driving 50% of health outcomes. Low income's domino effect worsens health outcomes for vulnerable individuals, including hindrances to accessing virtual care. Addressing this, the study advocates for evidence-based policies, among other recommendations that are rooted in equity. Presented by: Ishaw Sharma is an Indo-Canadian healthcare professional residing in Toronto with over a decade of experience in clinical research, public health, and digital health. With a background encompassing a BSc in Life Sciences and an MBA, her commitment extends to shaping an inclusive digital healthcare system in Ontario and beyond. Ishaw also dedicates herself to advancing her academic research on current digital health and its implications on pre-existing health disparities in Ontario for racialized population. She actively advocates for equitable policies through public forums and documentary photography.


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