Robbert van Bokhoven is working at Pharos – centre of expertise on health disparities – as consultant on strategic affairs and eHealth4All. Educated in social geography he later specialized in deprived neighbourhoods and worked for some years in the City of The Hague. His focus is on (technological and social) innovative concepts in prevention and healthcare. He started his career at the Comprehensive Cancer Centre Amsterdam as coordinating officer education and later on he was actively involved in the Dutch incentive program in the field of palliative terminal care.
eHealth opens up new perspectives for self-management. Because of its functionalities and responsive nature – offering direct personal feedback – particularly so for people with poor health literacy. Regrettably up till now most digital tools are not easy to use for large groups of people with a lower socioeconomic status and many elderly people. If things will not change this inevitably widens health inequalities. Upscaling of eHealth therefore will only be successful when we succeed in making it work for everyone.
How to overcome the digital gap and unlock the eHealth potential for disadvantaged or vulnerable groups? Pharos developed a four steps working model for making eHealth accessible for all. This comprises principles and strategies for co-creation, inclusive design and blended care. The four steps themselves refer to understandable and easy to use tools, guidance and support that fit personal needs and embedment in local infrastructures of prevention and healthcare. These steps are conditional for empowering low ses groups in effectively handling personalized lifestyle data.
A further and decisive concern when implementing lifestyle related apps in low ses groups has to do with obstacles in behavioural change. Often underlying problems such as poverty, debts, unemployment, loneliness and resulting chronic stress make it very difficult to adopt a more healthy lifestyle. What is needed is a broad and integral approach focusing on lifestyle as well as solving or help with underlying problems. That is where local networks in a public-private partnership may be helpful. In this presentation the development and implementation scheme of three ‘lifestyle related apps’ (‘The Stopcoach’, a quit smoking app, ‘The Personal Health Check’ and ‘I have Diabetes: what can I do’) will be illustrative