Policy & Practice Innovations to Advance Digital Health Equity in California
03/02/2021

Cal-IHEA will convene an expert panel to share research evidence relevant to expanding digital health solutions for low-income Californians

Online PR News – 02-March-2021 – Berkeley, CA – In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital health has emerged as a necessary tool to address health issues for millions of Californians. Telehealth access permitted by reimbursement policy changes has enabled access to care during the pandemic. However, a recent study indicates that at least 1 in every 4 Americans may not have digital literacy skills or access to internet-enabled digital devices to engage in telehealth video visits. Additionally, with a limited workforce, most providers and systems are unable to offer digital literacy training to ensure the effectiveness of digital solutions. For these reasons, policies must address the gap between digital health innovations and access to care for Medi-Cal beneficiaries and other vulnerable Californians.

California has taken a step toward telehealth policy reform with AB 744, a bill that allows Medi-Cal beneficiaries to use telehealth for all health care services, but agreements between managed care plans and contracted providers will determine payment rates for these services. AB 32, recently introduced by State Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, seeks to indefinitely extend telehealth access in order to ensure healthcare access for low-income Californians. Other digital solutions can also help address racial and disparities in health care access and quality. Culturally and linguistically appropriate, tailored solutions, including text-based messaging to support chronic care management and technology-enabled health workforce interventions, have potential to mitigate disparities. These solutions help meet Cal-AIM goals by reducing the gap in access to care and improving quality of care for low-income Californians.

The California Initiative for Health Equity and Action (Cal-IHEA) will convene an expert panel on March 9, 2021 to share research evidence relevant to expanding digital health solutions for low-income Californians during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Panelists will also discuss policy implications of their research for improving digital health equity, workforce development, and tailoring and disseminating digital health interventions for Black and Latinx Californians who have suffered disproportionately from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The briefing will be held on March 9th from 12-1 PM. Register at http://bit.ly/iheadigitalhealth.

Panelists will include UC Berkeley Professor Adrian Aguilera, Dr. Mary Reed from Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, and UC Davis Professor Dr. Katherine Kim. The panel will be moderated by the Executive Director of HealthTech for Medicaid, Adimika Arthur, with opening remarks from Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry.

The briefing is hosted by the California Initiative for Health Equity & Action with co-sponsorship from the Office of Assemblymember Cecilia Aguiar-Curry and HealthTech for Medicaid. Financial support is provided by the Blue Shield of California Foundation.

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About the California Initiative for Health Equity and Action (Cal-IHEA)
The California Initiative for Health Equity & Action (Cal-IHEA) is a state-wide research translation center that provides a critical link between the University of California and the state's health policy community. Created by the University of California Office of the President at the behest of the California Legislature, Cal-IHEA builds on the university's public service mission and seeks to improve health equity in California through the translation of University of California and California State University faculty research evidence into policy and practice. For more information, visit healthequity.berkeley.edu.