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“There is a disconnect between the problems of those who need the most help and the tech solutions they are being offered,” said Veenu Aulakh, executive director of theCenter for Care Innovations, an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit that works to improve health care for underserved patients.

At most digital health “pitchfests,” it’s pretty much white millennials hawking their technology to potential investors. “It’s about the shiny new object that really is targeted at solving problems for wealthy individuals, the ‘quantified-self’ people who already track their health,” Aulakh said. “Yet ….What if we could harness the energy of the larger innovation sector for some of these really critical issues facing vulnerable populations in this country?”

A small but growing effort is underway to do just that. It’s aimed at using digital technologies – particularly cellphones – to improve the health of Americans who live on the margins. They may be poor, homeless or have trouble getting or paying for medical care even when they have insurance.

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