Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics

Special Section: The Newest Frontier: Ethical Landscapes in Electronic Healthcare

An Analysis of Factors Underlying E-Health Disparities



The potential public and individual health consequences of unequal access to digital technologies have been recognized in the United States for at least a decade. Unequal access to the Internet and related technologies has been characterized as a “digital divide”; naturalistic trends toward broader access across the population and targeted intervention to increase access are described as progress toward “digital inclusion.” The problem of the digital divide has been characterized as one of healthcare justice. The idea that everyone should have access to the telecommunications grid—telephone and computer—is a central tenet of the U.S. universal service policy. With the diffusion of broadband technologies, the issue of digital access includes not only access to the Internet but also access to new levels of service, such as broadband, to support a wide range of emerging applications.