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Health in Her HUE-Culturally Competent Care for Women of Color




The Driver:


Health in Her Hue, recently raised $3M in seed round funding led by Seae Ventures, which brings the total funds raised to date to $4.2M, since being founded in 2018. This round also included participation from Johnson & Johnson Impact Ventures, Morgan Stanley Inclusive Ventures Lab, Genius Guild, HBCU Founders Fund, Stanford Impact Fund, and a select group of angel investors. The company will use the proceeds from the round to expand its products and programs, including the Care Squad Program, which provides culturally tailored health education classes, and launching of a new product which will enable members to ask clinical experts health questions through video chat.  


Key Takeaways: 


  • Non-Hispanic Black women are three to almost four times more likely to die while pregnant or within 1-year postpartum than their non-Hispanic white counterparts (CDC)

  • While Black women make up only 13.6% of the U.S. female population they have a higher prevalence of many health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, cancers, diabetes, maternal morbidities, and obesity and are much more likely to die of chronic conditions like diabetes (Black Women’s Health Study)

  • According to the company 67% of Health in Her HUE’s members  are more likely to engage with existing EAPs which reduces stress and other health related issues but employee absenteeism and lost corporate revenues as well (Health in Her HUE)

  • Over 60M women in the U.S. are living with some form of heart disease and with the leading cause of death for non-Hispanic Black women accounting for 50,000 deaths per year (CDC) 


The Story: 


Health in Her Hue Founder and CEO, Ashlee Wisdom, grew up in a New York City neighborhood where social inequity was and still is prevalent. After working as Assistant Director of Grants Management & Development, she noted that a substantial percentage of the population served are Black and Brown people who have higher rates of diabetes and heart diseases yet did not have health insurance or proper access to care. As a result, in 2018 Wisdom formed Health in Her HUE to connect women of color with culturally sensitive and responsive healthcare providers and content to support them with accessing better care to improve outcomes. She stated that the overall vision for the digital platform “is to be the first touch point for Black women and women of color when it comes to their health. What that means is that if a woman has a question related to her health, her first instinct is not going to WebMD or Google, but it’s Health in Her HUE’s content and resource library where she can find videos and articles on that condition” to make informed decisions on her health.


The Differentiators:

 

Health in Her Hue offers three approaches to provide personalized and equitable health to women of color through 1) Community, 2) Content, and 3) Connection. Their Community Forums have virtual care squads where women meet twice per month in a peer support group setting to discuss specific health topics. In terms of content, their curriculum is designed to be culturally sensitive for Black women and women of color by clinicians with expertise and experience on a specific health topic, which is a combination of written content, videos, and activities for participant engagement with each other. The evidence-based content library has articles and research on healthcare topics including Breast Health, Chronic Diseases, Mental Health, Oral Health, Pregnancy and Parenting, Reproductive and Sexual Health, Nutrition and Fitness, Skin and Hair Health, and LGBTQ+ Care. These topics are written by healthcare professionals who are either experts or have experiences with the health issue themselves. With an estimated 1,300 healthcare providers across sixty specialties, the digital platform has a provider directory that 13,000 members have access to. In terms of connection, Health in Her HUE’s peer groups are selected based on a member’s preferences and lived experiences and are guided by trained facilitators. Providers must self-opt in to join Health in Her Hue, to ensure alignment with the company’s mission.


The Big Picture: 


Studies have shown that African Americans are significantly more likely to experience premature discontinuation of psychiatric treatment for depression as compared to non-Hispanic Whites. This can be even more severe when one considers the general underuse of EAP programs. For example, according to the National Business Group on Health, 97% of large employers offer EAPs, yet in 2018, only 5.5% of employees used EAPs. However targeted programs like Health in Her HUE’s can help address this disparity. For example, according to the company 67% of Health in Her HUE’s members  are more likely to engage with existing EAPs (employee assistance programs), which not only reduces  elevated levels of stress and other health related issues but reduces employee absenteeism and lost corporate revenues.


In addition, women of color often experience higher prevalence of many chronic conditions and experience difficulty in finding providers that can provide culturally competent care. As noted in a study from Boston University, while Black women make up only 13.6% of the U.S. female population they have a higher prevalence of many health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, cancers, diabetes, maternal morbidities, and obesity and are much more likely to die of chronic conditions like diabetes. It is important to note that while the company states that providers undergo a rigorous onboarding process which includes a health interview, we did note several negative reviews on the company’s site including one where patients felt as if the physician did not listen to their needs at a time of vulnerability, during pregnancy and active childbirth. Given there is already a significant mistrust of providers from minority communities, especially Black Americans, due to the historical disparities in care experience we would like to see more active monitoring of provider reviews from patients for a probationary period to ensure that the providers remain strongly aligned with their mission. 




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