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St. Joseph's Hospital Health Center

Advancing Excellence

Dec 15 2013
The Great Divide

Every week I  read the top healthcare blogs, follow twitter feeds from some of the great leaders in health care and scan countless journals and papers.

More and more my sources for information and communications are digital - my IPhone, my IPad, the desktop and some hard copy publications. I would guess the majority or close to 70 percent is online; the hard copy is becoming less and less my "go to" for information.

Last week in the Post-Standard was a very interesting article on how college students at Syracuse University are getting their information. Written by  Dr. David Rubin, dean emeritus at the Newhouse School of Public Communications, it clearly suggests they are at almost 100 percent in getting information digitally.

I wrote to Dr. Rubin to tell him my biggest fear. Not that we are changing the method of how we communicate or seek information, but that we are leaving behind a group in our community. This group cannot afford, or does not have access to the internet. Their phones are simply basic phones without full access, and they do not have computers. Last summer when I did focus groups with residents on Medicaid and those who were uninsured they very elegantly reminded me that we make assumptions about access.

For those in poverty, that divide is becoming greater. How will we as a society, and in particular as healthcare providers, make sure our patients get the information they need? 

A quick scan of the internet found a large body of research on this subject, all under the  "Digital  Divide." Sites like:  http://mashable.com/2013/08/18/digital-divide/, Pew and researchers all conclude at least 15 percent of Americans do not have access and another nine percent choose not to have access.

It's an opportunity to work with the schools and our community partners to make sure the divide doesn't grow. 


4 Comments so far

Isaiah Rocine December 16, 2013 at 08:22 am

I know it's a few years old, but perhaps people will find this interesting--in 2008 the FCC estimated that approximately 86% of residents in the Syracuse Metropolitan Statistical Area (this includes Onondaga, Oswego, and Madison counties) had Residential High-Speed Internet Access. Nationallly the 100 largest Metros averaged about 66% and all Metro areas 72%.

Sr. Baptiste Westbrook December 16, 2013 at 10:13 am

Today I learned that about 50% of the bots invading PCs are malicious. So in order to have access it is necessary to be computer-wise, not an easy challenge for the elderly among us.

Kim Houghtaling December 27, 2013 at 09:27 am

Some people don't have internet access due to availability becasue of where they live not because of finances or because they choose not to.

Keith Bertrand January 9, 2014 at 10:32 am

NPR talked about this too.. http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/01/07/260409016/class-trumps-race-when-it-comes-to-internet-access

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