Hispanics: More mobile access but less health info access. Huh?

June 2, 2014

Hispanics use mobile technology more than anyone else, but studies about their health—online or offline—are nearly non-existent. You can help change that. How many times each day do you access a mobile device—two, five, or 20 or 30 times? It’s a fact that Hispanics use mobile devices more than non-minorities do, and organizations are waking up to the idea that if they want to reach minorities, mobile is the way to go. So if that is the case, why do we still lag behind when it comes to accessing health care information they need? Read the article and find out how you can play a critical role in closing the gap on health care awareness for our Hispanic communities. Facing the challenges First, mobile is still a new frontier, technologically speaking. Some larger corporations and a few smaller ones have figured out how to maximize the medium by offering useful, valuable information at the moment the consumer needs it. The rest – well, they’re still trying to figure out the role of mobile in their business. Second, Hispanics are chronically underrepresented in health research, according to a new study from researchers at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center. Too often, the data just isn’t there. That means treatment for minorities goes unidentified. Finally, study co-authors Professor Moon Chen, a lead researcher, and Karen Kelly, an associate director for clinical research, cite barriers to access, such as language, transportation or mistrust. According to Chen and Kelly, there are ways to get the word out on health studies, including use of culturally sensitive educational materials and specially trained patient navigators. Patient navigators can help build awareness that leads to greater ethnic minority participation and studies that reflect minority health trends as part of the greater whole. Those are a lot of barriers – we get it. But as community leaders, we really do have the power to initiate change. More importantly: our communities are counting on us. Taking inventory So, what have we got so far? Higher use of mobile technology among minorities Mobile apps that either aren’t well developed or are not on minorities’ radar Large communication gap between minority patients and care providers Reversing the trend: We each play a different role The Office of Minority Health (OMH) has launched an effort to increase health care knowledge and awareness with the HHS Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities. The initiative focuses on four key areas to link minorities and the technology they use with health info they need. Read the plan here. Getting involved at the community level We all can play a different role and affect change right where we are. The government is doing their part, and we can do ours. As advocates in our communities, here are some steps we can take to build awareness that improves our people’s health: Encourage your community to ask their health care providers about health studies (called “clinical studies”) and how they can participate. They should also ask for culturally relevant materials about their health. Mobile apps? Now, here’s one we can talk about. We just need a little help from our readers. That’s you! What are some of your favorite health apps or websites? How have they helped you? Share your experience of how something has helped improve your health or that of a family member. Your story could be just what another reader needs. Click here to share your story.