It’s Time to Develop Digital Health Tools for Low-Income People


To date, health care apps, remote-monitoring services, and other digital technologies have mostly been developed for middle- and high-income people, who get health coverage through an employer or purchase it on the private market. Few of these tools have been available to people with low incomes, many of whom have Medicaid.

But as a new feature article and To the Point post illustrate, there are millions of low-income Americans who could benefit as well. The Commonwealth Fund’s Shanoor Seervai and Lovisa Gustafsson write that the tech industry’s perceptions of people with Medicaid may be changing, as entrepreneurs become more familiar with the needs of patients who depend on the health care safety net.

In her research, Lisa Fitzpatrick, M.D., of Promoting Practical Health has identified opportunities to design and scale digital health innovations for poor people. For example, most participants in her study expressed great interest in mobile phone–enabled health solutions, such as an online chats or telemedicine visits, for health issues that call for on-demand consultation.

“Today, navigating life demands some degree of access to, and proficiency with, technology and the Internet,” Fitzpatrick writes. “This is just as true for low-income people as it is for the rest of society.”

Low-income patient with cell phone in hospital waiting room_1x1 Read more It’s Time to Develop Digital Health Tools for Low-Income People