Chronic disease rates are at an all-time high among underserved communities. At the same time, we know that technology can serve as a powerful equalizer to reach these same underserved communities and improve their health outcomes.
The Aetna Foundation is continually looking for new ways to accelerate innovation and reach people directly where they live, work and play. We take a long-term, systematic view and partner with institutions to uncover better approaches and tools that will empower people to make positive changes in their lives.
On the technology front, we’ve recently expanded our commitment to digital health technology and mobile health solutions through our Healthier World Innovation Challenge. The Challenge aims to create solutions that will enable members of underserved populations to take control of their health using technology that is already part of their everyday lives.
Launched in 2015, this $4.5 million, three-year initiative is engaging nonprofit partners in the quest to discover, test and evaluate technology innovations that can improve health for the nation’s underserved.
Mobile technology holds great promise in helping low-income populations adopt healthier habits. According to the Pew Research Center, 84% of low-income adults have access to a mobile phone and 1 in 3 mobile phone owners have used their phone to look up health information. The Aetna Foundation believes that such already-familiar technologies have a higher likelihood of successfully changing health-related habits.
Whether it’s an app that tracks exercise, or frequent personalized text messages containing tips and words of encouragement, reinforcement of healthy behaviors can change lives and raise the overall vitality of a community.