Much of the innovation in the health care system, including initiatives that are designed in whole or in part to achieve objectives aligned with health equity, are centered around cutting-edge technologies—wearables, sensors, digital applications, remote patient monitoring, artificial intelligence, and so on—which may amplify rather than alleviate disparities.

How can we shift from high-cost technological innovation that further marginalizes the vulnerable to innovation that is equitable, human-centered, impactful, and sustainable for the underserved? Four core principles should lead the way:

Hold health-care organizations accountable: Creating a digital health ecosystem that works for everyone starts by holding health-care organizations accountable for building responsible and sustainable solutions that promote equity. This requires ensuring that health-care organizations make good on health equity commitments and rigorously test new digital health innovations from an equity perspective before the technologies are unleashed onto the public.

Incorporate diverse perspectives among key decision makers: Including diverse stakeholders who can bring different lived experiences to the health-care innovation process is vital for creating equitable innovations. The people who are most likely to experience severe health disparities are often also underrepresented in R&D, have been underrepresented and marginalized in the tech industry, and nearly excluded from senior and executive roles throughout the health-care industry. This leaves important voices out of the decision-making process when it comes to the creation of digital health innovations.

Include marginalized people in research and product testing: Equitable research paradigms such as community-based participatory research, establishing opportunities for people of underserved communities to participate in co-creation with researchers and designers, or merely diversifying the pool of participants in research are vital parts of forging a more equitable path for health care innovation. They create opportunities for marginalized groups to provide input and feedback that only they can provide throughout the design and testing process of new digital health products.

Aim to replace costly, high-tech solutions with more affordable options: For all Americans, the cost burden of health care is already far too high. For minoritized communities who, on average, have lower incomes and are further financially strained from a lack of generational wealth, the cost burden of advanced technologies is even more excessive. As corporations and the federal government continue to pour money into digital health solutions, they need to ensure that the public is not bombarded with an onslaught of overlapping and unnecessary tools that further raise the costs of an already exorbitantly expensive health care system.

Read the full article about health care innovation by Tonie Marie Gordon at Stanford Social Innovation Review.