In healthcare these days, ‘There’s an app for that’… unless you really need it

Sarah Lisker
Contributor

Sarah Lisker is a Program Manager at the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations and a collaborator in The OpEd Project. She manages SOLVE Health Tech, which bridges private sector innovation with public health expertise to make digital health accessible.

When a digital health company announces a new app, everyone seems to think it’s going to improve health. Not me.
Where I work, in San Francisco’s public health system, in a hospital named after the founder of Facebook, digital solutions promising to improve health feel far away.
The patients and providers in our public delivery system are deeply familiar with the real-world barriers to leveraging technology to improve health. Our patients are low-income (nearly all of them receive public insurance) and diverse (more than 140 languages are spoken). Many of them manage multiple chronic conditions. The providers that care for them struggle with fragmented health records and outdated methods of communication, like faxes and pagers.
So when companies tell us they will


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