Informed by data and stakeholder interviews, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office released a report, “Building Toward Racial Justice and Equity in Health: A Call to Action,” meant to lay out ways stakeholders should come together to address the systemic health inequities facing people of color.
The report begins with an overview of the disproportionate harm that COVID-19 has
caused in communities of color, and then outlines actionable recommendations to
advance health equity in the following areas:
- Data for Identifying and Addressing Health Disparities
- Equitable Distribution of Health Care Resources
- Clinical Health Equity: Telehealth as a Tool for Expanding Equitable Access
- Health Care Workforce Diversity
- Social Determinants of Health and Root Causes of Health Disparities
Older adults are most prominently mentioned in the report under the third category, especially as it relates to “digital divide” issues. For example, the report mentions that, while telehealth has expanded during the pandemic, not all populations have equal access to devices, internet access or the comfort in literacy to utilize the technology. The report states that “Marginalized racial and ethnic groups, older adults, low-income families, and individuals with disabilities, limited English-proficiency (LEP), and limited health literacy are least likely to have access to the internet and compatible devices.”
At several points, the report talks about how older adults are among a series of groups in Massachusetts that could be left behind – at least in terms of telehealth usage and adoption – if digital divide issues remain unaddressed.
The Massachusetts Healthy Aging Collaborative is working with a variety of partners on addressing many of these issues and will continue to provide updates as those efforts progress. Recently, MHAC co-hosted a webinar on “Technology as a Social Determinant of Health” and encourages those interested to contact MHAC with suggestions and questions.