Article Highlights:

  • Although access to computers and the internet continues to soar on a yearly basis among Americans, within the U.S. and globally, the digital divide continues to widen at an alarming rate as unrelenting technological advances often aim to serve the elite and already technologically savvy. As technology itself becomes more complex, the capabilities and intricacies of its applications become more elaborate and wide-reaching, requiring higher skill levels for efficient use. With a global reach of 3.8 billion smartphone users worldwide in 2021, the conventional considerations of the past in assessing mere access to the internet and internet-capable devices are not and were not sufficient.
  • These challenges, many of which are driven by structural determinants of health—cultural norms, policies, institutions and practices that define the distribution or maldistribution of social determinants of health—will require focus, sustained attention and dedication on the part of health professionals and digital health innovators to overcome. Three examples outlined in a recent article clearly depict the need to look beyond the bounds of device and internet access when considering challenges and solutions to the worsening digital divide.

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