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Bridging the digital divide

Healthy access for all

You’re (probably) reading this on a screen, because most of us spend our lives interacting with them. Computers, smart phones, tablets – these are the ways we share information in a modern world. When it comes to managing our health, many of us use digital tools to self-manage our health digitally, by looking up ailments and improving our health literacy, making appointments and even having reminders sent via text.
But not all of us. BWA researchers Kim Borg, along with Mark Boulet, Liam Smith and Peter Bragge found in a recent review that many people face barriers to digital health communications, including lack of physical access, ability or attitude.
If you are elderly, disabled, or otherwise socially disadvantaged, becoming digitally included is harder than it sounds. If you can’t access a computer or device, or you’ve never used one, or you don’t have the skills to get online, where do you start? 
As the review says, we need to move beyond just providing physical access to technology towards promoting social support and skills, extending this to support networks and healthcare providers. User-focused and collaborative designs would also help those who have the most to gain from digital health communications not only feel digitally included, but it would give them confidence in an area of our lives – our health – most of us take for granted.
By addressing these barriers and enablers of digital inclusion, designers and practitioners can help those who missed the digital wave catch up and catch on. 
To read the abstract, follow this link (the full paper requires paid access).
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