Bridging the Health IT Digital Divide with Next Generation Connectivity Solutions


The past two years have shown how critical connectivity is to receive fundamental services, such as healthcare through telehealth, education with online learning, or continuing work remotely. Dr. Guy Diedrich, Senior Vice President and Global Innovation Officer at Cisco, spoke at this year’s HIMSS Global Health Conference about global digital transformation. “Being connected is a fundamental human right now…Without having foundational connectivity, you wouldn’t be able to give people healthcare, education, and government services that require connectivity,” said Diedrich.

Diedrich commented that there will be “500 billion connected things by 2030.” Even with the rapid transformation, a significant digital divide remains between the unconnected and connected. Approximately 40 percent of the world is still unconnected. According to Diedrich, if organizations were able to partner with these countries to bridge the gap, the global GDP could increase by $6.7 trillion. Citizens would gain better access to government services, work, education, and healthcare that was previously unattainable.

One industry partnership that showcases the impacts of connectivity is a program in Canada that helped individuals with disabilities throughout the pandemic. Technology organizations partnered with government leaders to deliver services to those in need. During the pandemic, caregivers could not help with reminders to take medications or other daily notifications. Partners stepped in to create remote monitoring, smart notifications, alert services, and smart device integration to support autonomous living for these disabled individuals.

Another example of partners stepping in to overcome the digital divide is providing health services to those in rural communities. In Germany, technology partners retrofitted several buses that were no longer in service and turned them into mobile clinics to provide for underserved areas. Before, these communities were not connected to doctors or specialists, so the organizations outfitted the buses with waiting rooms, testing labs, and more.. The buses were able to move across the country to connect and serve the needs of the people.

During the HIMSS Global Health Conference, Diedrich shared numerous examples of how the technology industry can bridge the digital divide and bring connectivity to those unconnected. When organizations partner with governments, radical transformation can take place to help those who are underserved.

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