Did You Know, These Black Innovators are Advancing Health Equity?

August 21, 2023

Health equity, the goal of all people having the opportunity to achieve their highest level of health, is a goal that can only be achieved through addressing current and historic discrimination and social and structural drivers of health. Approaches to achieving health equity look to understand and leverage the relationship between individuals, communities, and societal factors. There are many Black innovators and entrepreneurs, as well as organizations, in this space seeking to advance health equity. Dr. Byron Young, Crystal Adesanya, and Lisha Bell are each taking a different approach to advancing equity in their community – whether it be through providing inclusive care, creating spaces that are community-centered, or ensuring innovators receive the funding they need to make a positive impact in their communities. Additionally, initiatives like the In Full Health Learning and Action Community are committed to advancing equitable opportunities in health innovation investment, solution development, and purchasing.

Providing care at the intersection of mental health, social and racial justice, and the arts is Dr. Byron Young’s focus. Dr. Young is a child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist as well as an emotional wellness program developer and consultant. He works primarily as a psychiatrist and psychiatric consultant with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health’s specialized foster care program. Additionally, his initiative, DoingItWell, is focused on emotional wellness and aims to inspire and assist communities, particularly urban communities of color, to live their best lives. Dr. Young is passionate about being impactful in under-resourced and marginalized communities, particularly communities of color, in both his daily work with the LA County DMH and various community oriented projects.

On a similar mission of providing inclusive care is Crystal Adesanya, who is the founder and CEO of Kiira Health. After a personal, negative health care experience in college, Crystal became passionate about women’s health and started Kiira Health. Kiira Health’s mission is to change the way women receive, seek, and experience health care by centering compassion, empathy, and cultural sensitivity. The Kiira platform includes a nationwide telemedicine solution and a flagship clinic in Los Angeles. Kiira empowers young women and students to become proactive with their health and takes a multigenerational approach by providing connected care to women starting in colleges and universities.

In addition to providing inclusive care that centers community, funding for innovators in these spaces is an important aspect of the health innovation ecosystem. Lisha Bell is focused on building and investing in products that serve community needs to bridge the capital divide. Lisha is the Economic Opportunity Fund Manager at PayPal, where she manages $100 million in investment into diverse emerging fund managers. In addition to her work at PayPal, she is also co-founder of BLXVC, an angel syndicate of moms funding Black and Brown founders. BLXVC seeks to support founders and innovators addressing issues such as social injustice, women’s rights, and financial inclusion.

Whether it’s providing patient-centered care, creating inclusive spaces, or disrupting exclusionary funding streams, each of these innovators is making inroads in promoting health equity. By centering historically marginalized communities and working to disrupt the status quo, these innovators are creating positive change to benefit health.

In addition to individual innovators in this space, organizational efforts such as the In Full Health Learning and Action Community is working to advance equitable health innovation by providing a framework for shared understanding and a community for stakeholders committed to centering equity within their health innovation investment, development, and purchasing efforts. The foundation of the In Full Health Community is based on five principles for equitable health innovation:

  1. Dismantling structural racism, sexism, and bias in health innovation resource allocation beginning with organizational self-assessment.
  2. Impact on health equity is a fundamental metric that should be used in assessing the value created by all health innovations.
  3. Greater investment is needed in health innovations developed specifically to improve health in and/or eliminate inequities experienced by historically marginalized communities, with resources and support prioritized for innovators designing from within these communities
  4. More health innovation investment models should support asset ownership and wealth development within historically marginalized communities.
  5. While health innovation funders, solution developers, and customers have a significant opportunity for impact at the organizational level, we need industry influencers to engage in addressing systems-level barriers and needs.

If you fund, develop, purchase, or influence the ecosystem of health solutions, join the In Full Health Community in advancing equitable health innovation investment and resource allocation in creating a future where every person is in full health.