AT&T Supports TTUHSC El Paso’s Fight Against Health Inequity

As health care systems provide more services using technology, residents in underserved communities are facing increased health inequities.

The Promotores de Salud program at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and AT&T are working to reverse that trend.

AT&T Texas awarded Promotores de Salud $25,000 for their Telehealth/Digital Health Literacy project, with a focus on serving residents in the 79905 ZIP code. Digital health literacy describes the skills necessary to successfully navigate and use digital or electronic health information and patient resources. Through the program, promotores (community health workers) train residents to access and use patient portals for health care providers, medical laboratories and pharmacies, as well as telehealth services.

“AT&T is honored to support this important program that will help underserved Texans access online health resources,” said Leslie Ward, President, AT&T Texas.  “Our support for the Promotores de Salud program is an example of the AT&T commitment to advancing education, creating opportunities, strengthening communities and improving lives, and it falls right in line with our goal to help close the digital divide in Texas.”

In ZIP codes such as 79905, where 68% of residents have a high school diploma, equivalent or less, digital literacy is vital for residents to succeed economically. Residents with digital skills can gain better employment and move up the socioeconomic ladder, which improves health outcomes, according to Jessica A. Chacon, Ph.D., director of the Promotores de Salud program.

“Digital inclusion has been recently considered a social determinant of health with paramount importance, and broadly includes the development of digital skills, and access to devices, training and tech support,” said Dr. Chacon, who is also an assistant professor of immunology and microbiology at the Foster School of Medicine. “Social determinants are non-medical factors that influence health outcomes.”

To improve health knowledge in the border community, Dr. Chacon, along with Department of Medical Education faculty and TTUHSC El Paso medical and graduate students, established the El Paso Health Education and Awareness Team (EP-HEAT). EP-HEAT is an outreach organization that hosts health education workshops and digital literacy and resource distribution events with the promotores, who provide unique cultural insights and train students to effectively communicate, establish trust and build relationships with community members.

With the $25,000 award, EP-HEAT, in partnership with AT&T Texas, hosted bilingual informational sessions on digital literacy at the TTUHSC El Paso campus. Community members toured AT&T’s mobile unit and learned about various digital literacy resources AT&T offers.

With AT&T’s support, EP-HEAT also hosted eight Myth Buster and Walk With a Future Doc events at TTUHSC El Paso, off-campus and virtually. They provided AT&T digital health literacy resources to 400 community members.

“We know many people in our community lack this knowledge, especially seniors, and in this age where everything is digitized, it’s a challenge to learn these skills,” said Maria Frayre, a resident who attended the informational session. “I learned from the comments and questions, and I can now share this information with my community.”