Ivelyse Andino, founder & CEO of Radical Health
At Radical Health they look at health equity through meaningful conversations, both in person where they have meetings and workshops in historically marginalized communities talking about health. On the tech side they have built out a “know your rights” for health app that uses AI, and helps pregnant women of color ask questions, to make sure that they know their rights, they know what they’re getting into. The app Radical Relay helps women use their own voice and agency to change the way healthcare is delivered and to ultimately reduce maternal mortality.
Health, addressing marginalized or underrepresented patient populations
We must define health and really basic words. In these conferences, and especially in this industry, we love to use words that are created by people who are really far removed. Centering people both where they live, their environment, their emotional state, and all of the systemic and personal biases, or structures that are racist. It’s important that when I define health, it’s about equity for all. Equal health, where we’re centering those that have been the most invisible and forgotten and making sure that their voices are heard, regardless of their background, their education, but just because they’re human.
Reaching people at the level that they’re at
When we look at the history of health rights and the atrocities that were committed long ago from the Tuskegee Airmen experiment to the sterilization of Puerto Rican women. We know that this is just not fair. When we look at healthcare today, where we have black women dying three to four times the rate of white women in the United States, where the US is the most dangerous developed country in the world to give birth, we’re living that. Those inequities happen from a systemic level. For example: who has access to health care, who can wait, how long have to wait for a provider visit, to even then like the small, microaggressions i.e how often at the provider levels, does one encounter both microaggressions, but also direct aggression. When we look at that on both sides, there are big things and there are small things and then there are system things that we’re trying to solve.
Shifting the paradigm of poor health outcomes
It’s important to acknowledge that as people of color we are resilient. We’ve lived through all kinds of life experiences and historical things. So we are resilient. Oftentimes, we put a lot on the patient, i.e, you have to do more, you have to go to your visits, etc. The way that I look at it is kind of twofold. I think individually, we can start to ask more questions. The same way we asked questions about education, or we asked questions when we’re going to buy a car, we definitely could look at health the same way. I always say that we probably spend more time picking out what we’re going to eat for lunch, than we do thinking about our next appointment and what we’re going to ask our providers.
The other thing is creating a representation. That means the more seats that we can take up, the more we get hired into positions of actual power, especially in health tech, where women of color are less than 2% of the CEOs. That representation in those positions where we can then make the calls and where we can actually have influence over the policies over the AI that’s being developed, even the content that’s being created, I think, does wonders. In summary, it’s both, individuals, stepping up, but I also think it’s a responsibility of the system at large to make space and be inclusive, not just from the DNI perspective, but actual longevity and making more space.
Radical health and health equity for the future
To be fair when I’m in my communities, we don’t, use the terms like health equity. And again, that’s very health care-centric language. What we look at is, people, want to be well. They want to live, they want to see their grandchildren, they want to see their family members thrive. They want to love and they want to do that right, where their body feels well, where their hearts feel well. When we see the future, I don’t want to keep talking about equity, I think we need to be done with this. I want us all to live our lives the way we were intended to.
At Radical Health we see that in the communities where we’re connecting person to person, where we’re sharing our full lives not just the clinical side. I want to see the full transformation of a system that we know is broken on so many levels, where folks at the top, place profit and benefit, before people at the bottom. I’d love to see a redistribution of that, where the folks who have often been forgotten or neglected or where we consider to be the bottom, are the ones that are actually leading the change and being the inspiration moving forward.