November 6, 2018

Thoughts on healthcare data and access to information as a driver towards equity

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of being interviewed by the folks at DotHealth about some of my interests in the area of healthcare, access, data, and equity.

Drawing of me in front of a stack of papers

From the interview:

That experience got Sameer thinking about the decisions he was able to make that other people couldn’t. For him, procedures like wisdom teeth removal wasn’t a question; he knew he would inevitably pay the bill to have them removed. But he knew it wasn’t the same for everyone. What about the people who can’t make that decision?” he wonders. What about the people who have to ask, do I feed my family, or do I get my wisdom teeth out?’”

The underlying message of the interview—which is also at the core of much of the work I do every day, and not just in healthcare—is that access to information is a key building block towards equity:

These types of questions led Sameer down a lifelong quest of exploring equity within healthcare. And he doesn’t believe that equity is only financial. We always talk about money as a currency — but we should also be thinking about knowledge,” he says. Some people have all the information available to them, so they can ask their doctor the right questions and pursue the right care.” He champions the idea that information is a valuable currency in health care, and that privilege plays a big role in distributing that currency.

I’d encourage you to read the interview if you’re interested in some of my thinking around healthcare equity, and the notion of access to information, but more than that, I’d encourage you to explore some of the work DotHealth is doing to make health data accessible. They aren’t solving every problem, but their approach to data sharing is a refreshing one in the area of health delivery and design in Canada.