This study evaluates the use of in-person focus groups and online engagement within the context of a large public engagement initiative conducted in rural Newfoundland.
Participants were surveyed about their engagement experience and demographic information. Pre and post key informant interviews were also conducted with organizers of the initiative.
Of the 111 participants in the focus groups, 97 (87%) completed evaluation surveys; as did 23 (88%) out of 26 online engagement participants. Overall, focus group participants were positive about their involvement, with 87.4% reporting that they would participate in a similar initiative. Online participation was below expectations and these participants viewed their experience less positively than in-person participants. Organizers viewed the engagement initiative and the combined use of online and in-person engagement positively.
This study presents a real-world example of the use of two methods of engagement. It also highlights the importance of the successful execution of whatever engagement mechanism is selected.
The Indian Health Service (IHS), a federal health system, cares for 2 million of the country's 5.2 million American Indian and Alaska Native people. This system has increasingly focused on innovative uses of health information technology and telemedicine, as well as comprehensive, locally tailored prevention and disease management programs, to promote health equity in a population facing multiple health disparities. Important recent achievements include a reduction in the life-expectancy gap between American Indian and Alaska Native people and whites (from eight years to five years) and improved measures of diabetes control (including 20 percent and 10 percent reductions in the levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and hemoglobin A1c, respectively). However, disparities persist between American Indian and Alaska Native people and the overall US population. Continued innovation and increased funding are required to further improve health and achieve equity.
The US Indian health system utilizes a diverse range of health information technology and innovative tools to enhance health service delivery for American Indians and Alaska Natives. This article provides an overview of efforts and experience using such tools to achieve health equity for American Indian and Alaska Native communities. Specific attention is given to the Indian Health Service Electronic Health Record and to two examples of telehealth innovation.