Photo Credit: Black Girls Code project 

(ED NOTE: The democratization of healthcare is real through “Internet Medicine”; this article shows why)


august 31, 2013

The following is a guest post by Dr. Ivor Horn. Ivor is a physician, thought leader and health services researcher with a passion for technology, health innovation and the underserved. Learn more about her on her website.

While we have made great strides over the last decade, minority communities are still disproportionately affected by health disparities in this country. However, there is a convergence of technology use among minority communities that has created an opportunity to disrupt the current trajectory of health disparities.

Minorities are early adopters when it comes to mobile technology for many reasons – cost, transportability and internet access to name a few. They are the fastest growing population of smartphone users and more likely to go online using their cell phones, especially to connect via social media.  As early adopters of mobile technology, minority and urban communities may be best positioned to benefit from tech innovations in health care.  Of note, African Americans are twice as likely as whites to use mobile health applications (15% vs. 7%) with Latinos not far behind (11%). When we asked families in our clinics if they would be interested in receiving health information via mobile, almost 90% said yes. The Pew Internet Project has great details on the use of health & tech and by whom.

To date there have been very few companies & initiatives developing tech services focused on these communities of color, but the tide is shifting.

Innovations in health technology offer great promise for reducing health disparities, but there is a need for an ecosystem that promotes the development, implementation and evaluation of such technology solutions geared toward minority populations who need it the most.  There is a need for a partnership between developers, the health system, funders and communities.

At next year’s South by Southwest Interactive (SXSW) event (discussed a few times here on the Pulse + Signal blog) – a flurry of digital, futuristic and innovative pioneers will be descending upon Austin, Texas. While many of us in the digital health and innovation landscape are looking forward to connecting and ushering in new ideas – a few of us will be discussing what can be happening right now to create impact.

In order to bring alot of what I’ve mentioned to the forefront, I’ve joined with extraordinarily smart colleagues/thought leaders in the health care and technology landscape (including Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code – photo above is from one of their workshops) to put together a hands-on workshop proposal for next year and I hope you’ll get on board with spreading the word! Our workshop will help to not only expose the plethora of opportunities for tech entrepreneurs to get involved in changing the health landscape for communities of color but it will also begin connecting the dots for those who want to create lasting social impact.

Want to help get us to SXSW next year so we can make this happen?

  1. Create a SXSW PanelPicker account (if you already haven’t)
  2. Vote for our session by clicking on the thumbs up icon
  3. Feel awesome about contributing to a much needed aspect of the event and the future of health innovation

It really is that simple! I’m looking forward to making this happen and moving things forward for the benefit of many in our communities.

P.S.: We’re all on Twitter so follow us: Ivor HornAlisa HughleyKimberly Bryant & Damon Davis

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