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Music & Minority Health at SXSWi

sxswi-2104 (1)Editor’s Note: South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) takes place in March in Austin, Texas. The conference offers a wide variety of topics that address uses of technology for social good issues such as healthcare. We asked Alisa Hughley, founder of enBloom Media, to tell us more about the session she is facilitating at SXSWi – Minorities in Health Tech: A How-To Workshop. How are information technologies ideal for combating persisting health disparities?

Alisa Hughley: The Pew Internet & American Life Project Exit Disclaimer reported that 60% of blacks download mobile apps to cell phones (compared to 48% of whites). Nine out of ten Black cell phone owners access social networking sites with these phones Exit Disclaimer [PDF 1.27MB]. They are almost as likely as whites to use the Internet for self-diagnosis and they are slightly more likely to use health information obtained online to follow-up with their physicians Exit Disclaimer [PDF 1.67MB].  Effective public health interventions like Text4Baby and Greater Than AIDS campaign skillfully harness social media to build community and encourage behavior change.

Sports and entertainment elites and politically savvy pundits rule “Black Twitter” but a growing number are turning their attention towards but a growing number are turning their attention towards health. We’re encouraging citizens of “Black Twitterverse” to design and use applications aimed at decreasing disease burden.

In the session description it states “urban communities represent the most urgent need for healthcare & the fastest growing segments of cost, but are the least targeted for technology innovation.” Can you tell us more about this?

AH: Misconceptions about technology use and ineffective partnerships often arise because sometimes developers have no true ties to “urban communities.” The result is a dearth in development for communities of color. Pew reports 45% of US adults live with at least one chronic condition like hypertension or diabetes Exit Disclaimer. Data also reveals 24% of Blacks report managing two or more chronic conditions, despite comprising 12% of the population. Care for the sickest Americans accounts for 84% of all health care costs Exit Disclaimer

Why is it important to increase health technology innovation in minority communities with their leadership and input?

AH: Health literacy and usability issues that pose challenges are best addressed through inclusion by design. Developers can tailor their designs by understanding the behavior of the users. Key resources and examples of successful community partnering featured at the workshop include these speakers:

  • HHS Health Data Initiative Director Damon Davis will discuss how to access open-access datasets prime for use in innovative developments from telemedicine to sensor technology.
  • Kimberly Bryant will discuss lessons learned while successfully taking her non-profit Black Girls Code Exit Disclaimer from start-up through smart growth.
  • Ivor Horn MD, MPH of Children’s National Medical Center Exit Disclaimer will share her experience both as a pediatrician and a clinical investigator.
Why is it important to have this workshop at a big conference like SXSWi?

AH: SXSWi attracts the brightest minds in technology innovation and fosters creativity across many disciplines. With the likes of Nas and Sean “Diddy” Combs slated to speak, SXSWi provides access to a diverse audience. We are delighted SXSWi veteran Andre Blackman, Founder of Pulse + Signal Exit Disclaimer, provided us with the driving force to pull this workshop together.

How can our readers who are not attending the workshop get involved?

AH: You can follow #MinHIT Exit Disclaimer on Twitter for updates and more on our movement towards equity in digital health. If you are attending SXSWi, take a break from the music and film festivities to attend Minorities in Health Tech: A How-To Workshop Exit Disclaimer.  Register now to attend on Monday, March 10th from 3:30pm – 6:00pm at Austin’s AT&T Conference Center (room 301).