WASHINGTON — A Howard alum is attempting to bridge the gap between Black women and health providers through a digital platform called Health in her HUE.
While 13% of Americans are Black, Only 5% of physicians in the U.S. are Black, according to the U.S. Census and the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Ashley Wisdom, a Howard University alum who has a Masters in health from NYU, highlights three major obstacles alienating Black women from the medical community:
- Provider bias against Black people
- Distrust of medical providers
- Lack of health information that is both accessible to Black women and centers their experiences.
These factors have proven effects on Black women's health. Health in Her HUE aims to address all three obstacles that Wisdom highlights.
According to the CDC:
- Black women are 3-4 times more likely to die from childbirth than white women.
- 13% of Black people in the U.S. are in fair or poor health, compared to 10% of Latina people and 9.5% of white people.
- 56% of Black women over the age of 20 are obese, compared to 48% of Latina women and 38% of white women
- 44% of Black women over the age of 20 have hypertension, compared to 25% of Latina women and 34% of white women.
Furthermore, in 2005, the National Academy of Medicine released a report that found minorities in the U.S. are less likely than white people to receive appropriate cardiac care, necessary transplants and to be given the best treatments for stroke, cancer, or AIDS – even when insurance status, income, age and severity of conditions were comparable.
"There's a need for women of color specifically to have digital solutions that make it easier for us to find trusted healthcare providers,” Wisdom said. “So that's what we're building with Health in Her HUE. We're building out a database and a search and booking feature where Black women and women of color can find culturally appropriate health care providers."
Wisdom said a combination of personal experience and academic research inspired her to create a platform designed to empower Black women to better manage their health.
“I personally was experiencing microaggressions and working in a toxic environment as a Black woman,” she said. “It happened to be a healthcare setting and it impacted my health. At the same time that that was happening, I was learning about the various social factors that impact health outcomes and saw the disparities and outcomes for black women and thought to myself, how can I make this information more accessible to your everyday Black woman?"
Wisdom said HUE has a double meaning – it refers to the platform’s target audience, women of color, but is also an acronym for Hearing and Understanding Black women's unique experiences. This message, Wisdom said, is the company’s broader mission.
"I didn't want the platform to be seen as just connecting Black women to Black doctors, but really honing in on that cultural competency,” Wisdom said. “Because sometimes doctors of color have their own biases. And so I really want anyone who's listed on the platform from a provider standpoint to really be dedicated and intentional as they're providing care."
Wisdom said providers can sign up on their website, Health In Her Hue dot com, to list their practice - and patients can enter their location to find doctors nearby. She also says the platform plans to add telehealth services and a community platform sometime next year.