Meet 10 Black people disrupting the digital healthcare industry today
Dr. Jossy Onwude writes about venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and doctors who are shaping healthcare today.
About the Author: Dr. Jossy Onwude is the cofounder and chief medical and product officer at Bold Health. He is a medical doctor, Health informatics fellow and a serial entrepreneur. To date, he has cofounded four digital health startups, with three still active and one successful exit. Currently, he leads the research and product development efforts at Bold Health – a digital therapeutics company for chronic gastrointestinal conditions.
Black medical pioneers, like the notable Daniel Hale Williams, have battled for equality and representation in today’s healthcare systems. In 1891, Williams established the first nonsegregated hospital to provide medical care for anyone seeking it, and medical training for anyone aspiring to make a change.
Historically, the injustice faced by Black and other minority ethnic groups has initiated a cycle of inequality that still reaps devastating effects today. Racial discrimination in healthcare continues to disadvantage Black and other minority ethnic groups with unequal access to quality healthcare resources. This is mirrored by the reduced spend on Black and other minority ethnic groups’ healthcare needs, which results in worse health outcomes than usual.
Importantly, these trends will continue to be perpetuated as we become increasingly dependent on novel technologies in policy and decision-making. For example, it has been shown that machine learning algorithms are not allocating care resources proportionally to the health needs of Black patients (Obermeyer et al., 2019). Correcting for racial bias is now long overdue.
Still, however, Daniel Hale Williams’ legacy continues today. In this perspective on diversity, we show why it is invaluable. Diversity in leadership yields inclusion and representation, contributing towards bridging the gap to equal access opportunities. By celebrating inclusion, we are celebrating 10 distinguished individuals disrupting the digital healthcare industry today.
Amber Michelle Hill, PhD, CEO, R.grid
Dr. Amber Michelle Hill is a force in the field of translational neuroscience and medical research. Both an acclaimed researcher and computer scientist, Dr. Hill uses her kinship with science to identify gaps in the field - and then engineers solutions to fill them.
Currently, she leads as the CEO of an AI-based company she has founded, R.grid, which creates technologies that facilitate the streamlining of medical research. Concurrently, however, Dr. Hill also leads efforts in social impact. An active member of the scientific community, she is constantly engaging with patients and the public to find ways for both groups to communicate their experiences and create effective strategies for the development of medical research.
Jason Robart and Tuoyo Louis, Managing Partners, Seae Ventures
Two of the three Partners running Seae Ventures, Jason and Tuoyo are committed to sustainable, impactful and ethical investing in healthcare.
Jason and Tuoyo are both established and accomplished in their lines of business. With long-standing careers in the healthcare industry at all levels, from involvement in health-focused startups to hospital innovation, the two are strategically using their field expertise to shape the future of the market.
Dr. Funke Abimbola MBE, CEO, The Austen Bronte Consultancy
Dr. Funke Abimbola, MBE is a multi-award-winning C-suite healthcare executive, board advisor, BBC commentator, diversity leader and TEDx speaker.
She is a Nigerian businesswoman who constantly advocates the promotion of equality, diversity and inclusion across the corporate world and society as a whole. She personally leads, sponsors, champions and supports a wide range of initiatives and projects, working with a number of organizations to drive change.
Ivan Beckley, Cofounder and CEO, Suvera Health
A restless proponent of change, Ivan Beckley envisions a paradigm shift in healthcare – from classical care to digitally-enabled practices. His journey in the field has been both acclaimed and comprehensive. Ivan is an award-winning medical student and health data specialist. His career has spanned work with leading companies in the digital health space and beyond, including Ada Health, NHS England and DeepMind Health. Today, however, he leads the effort at Suvera Health to enable clinicians to follow up with their patients remotely, efficiently and conveniently.
Melissa Hanna, JD, MBA, Cofounder and CEO, Mahmee
Named one of the top black founders to watch in 2019, Melissa Hanna has led operations and strategy at leading startups in healthcare, education, digital media and consumer goods. An activist-entrepreneur, Melissa received her MBA from the Peter F. Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University and her JD from Southwestern Law School.
Olamide Dada, Founder, Melanin Medics
Olamide Dada is recognized as one of the top 10 Black students in the UK. She saw a need for a support network for BAME students while applying for medicine and set up the Melanin Medics blog.
Melanin Medics has grown into a nonprofit charity that provides African and Caribbean doctors with the support needed to apply and thrive in the medical field. As well as being an entrepreneur whilst studying medicine, she was also awarded as one of the Top 100 Future Leaders 2018 and welcomed to No.10 Downing Street as a result. She's passionate about racial equality, leadership, widening participation and promoting positivity among minority groups in the U.K.
Jesaja Brinkmann, Cofounder and co-CEO, Cara Care
Jesaja Brinkmann cofounded Cara Care, a startup that aims to help people get their stomach and intestinal problems under control.
The 27-year-old studied medicine and came up with the idea for his own company during his doctoral thesis: a diary app, where people can register their symptoms and influence triggers. He saw how badly irritable bowel syndrome patients were treated and was inspired to use technology and medical knowledge to help them.
Professor Gary Bennett, Director, Duke Global Digital Health Science Center
Professor Bennett is especially interested in integrating digital health treatments into the primary care setting. He’s the Bishop-MacDermott Family Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience for Global Health and Medicine at Duke University, and directs the Duke Global Digital Health Science Center. Dr. Bennett's research program designs, tests and disseminates digital obesity treatments.
He developed the interactive obesity treatment approach (iOTA), while his recent work demonstrates the effectiveness of coach-led digital obesity treatments. He’s authored an astounding 125 scientific papers.