Supporting digital connectivity in New Mexico

Access to high-speed internet has become increasingly recognized as a social driver of health, impacting an individual’s ability to access education, employment opportunities, social interactions, and telehealth services. New Mexico ranks 48th in the country for high-speed internet access.1 Rural communities in New Mexico face additional barriers to accessing broadband infrastructure, contributing to the health and social inequities that these communities often experience.2 One survey found that 80% of people on tribal land in New Mexico do not have broadband internet access.3

To address these challenges, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of New Mexico is collaborating with T-Mobile and local organizations to improve digital access and literacy in communities across the state. Through $275,000 in total funding across two distinct initiatives, the health plan aims to expand access to internet connectivity, devices, and digital literacy. Households that qualify based on income will receive T-Mobile internet, and devices like phones, tablets, and laptops. Recipients will also have access to tech support from T-Mobile to help them use their new devices and stay connected.

Goodwill Industries of New Mexico will offer workforce development digital skills training and connect people seeking employment to digital resources. The organization will conduct outreach events in targeted rural and metro communities, offer in-person and virtual digital literacy training, and provide workforce development through digital skills training and connecting people seeking employment to digital resources.

In a separate initiative, the University of New Mexico’s Office of Community Health will train its community outreach workers to improve health connectivity and digital health literacy via community hubs in underserved areas. The organization will aim to distribute devices like laptops and hotspots, train residents and families on digital literacy, and collect data to measure the program’s impact on social drivers of health (SDOH).

Digital connectivity is a crucial component of addressing health disparities and supporting the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. Through two these initiatives more families across the state will have the tools they need to engage in education, employment, and health resources.

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