How an app helps black women find culturally competent care
Key points to remember
- Health In Her Hue is a digital platform that connects black women and women of color with culturally competent healthcare providers, health content, and community.
- Black women and women of color can connect with therapists, doctors, doulas, midwives, lactation consultants and more from BIPOC on the Health In Her Hue app.
- Health In Her Hue will migrate from an app to a web platform this year.
While Ashlee Wisdom, MPH, Founder and CEO of Health In Her HUE (HIHH), was a master’s student in public health at New York University, she noticed that black women and women of color didn’t did not have access to the health information she was reading. daily in academic journals.
Coupled with her negative experiences in the past with culturally insensitive health care providers, Wisdom was prompted to create HIHH to help bridge the health divide.
HIHH is a digital platform launched in 2018. It helps connect black women and women of color to culturally competent healthcare providers, health content, and the community. The platform includes a provider directory, which users can search and filter for providers who meet their cultural needs, as well as a library of content focused on the lived experiences of black women and the issues that primarily affect them.
Wisdom hopes this platform will advance the health of black women and women of color by increasing access to culturally competent and sensitive providers, therapists, doulas, midwives, lactation consultants, and more.
Verywell spoke to Wisdom and Magdala Chery, MD, MPH, a New Jersey-based certified internal medicine physician and HIHH provider, to find out how the app is helping make care more accessible.
Verywell: What inspired you to launch Health In Her HUE?
Wisdom: I started building Health in Her Hue when I was a MPH student at New York University and had the privilege of having access to academic journals. I kept reading articles for different classes and seeing the poor health outcomes that exist for black women everywhere. I remember feeling really privileged to have this heightened awareness as a black woman of health disparities. If I wasn’t sitting in this classroom, I wasn’t sure I was so aware of these issues. So I wanted to get the information out of the ivory tower and make it more accessible and actionable for everyday black women.
The other half of this story is that I worked for an academic medical center here in New York City. One department I worked in was a very toxic work environment for me as a black woman. It ultimately had an impact on my health. I had chronic hives and thought I was allergic to something, so I saw an allergist, who happened to be a white female. She was a good doctor, but she did some tests on me and couldn’t figure out what was causing the hives. It never occurred to me to share with her, “Hey, I work in this really racist environment and it’s toxic.” In addition, I was in college full time.
It never occurred to me to share these things with her because I didn’t feel like she would be able to understand or even understand. When I quit toxic work, the hives stopped. I realized that the hives were triggered by the stress I was going through. I remember reflecting on this experience and thinking about the difference between my communication and interactions with my black gynecologist versus what it was with my white allergist. If I had shared more with her about what was going on, she might have discovered the root cause of what was triggering the hives, instead of just telling me to take two Allegra each day to contain them.
I figured if no one else came up with a solution to help black women and women of color navigate this health care system that really wasn’t designed for us, then I want to create something for help us.
Verywell: How does HIHH fit into the healthcare space?
Wisdom: I’ve done a lot of research and haven’t seen anything on the market that is specifically designed to meet the unique health needs of women of color, especially black women.
I went to Howard University for my undergraduate degree. Within this group of alumni emails, at least once a week, I get an email exchange asking for a recommendation for black therapists or gynecologists. Seeing that this was my first inclination, there was a need for a directory or tool to help us find culturally aligned or culturally competent providers. This did not exist at the time.
Chery: We are using technology so that we can hopefully reach black women everywhere. There are women who are in areas where they cannot find suppliers of color. So how do you connect them to systems that make them feel secure? And how can we help them find a doctor who might not be a color provider but who is culturally sensitive and has gotten great reviews for how they care for women like them.
Verywell: How does HIHH work and how will it grow?
Wisdom: We currently have an app and that’s where people log in and search and find these providers. We will be launching a new web experience.
One of the things that excites us in the future is to bring the possibility to consult in telemedicine or telehealth for the women who use our platform. We really want to close the access gap.
While we know that technology is not a panacea, it has a lot of power to fill some of the access gaps for patients who are actively seeking culturally sensitive or culturally aligned providers. Let’s say you are a black woman in a rural area or an area where you simply do not have access to a black doctor who is part of your insurance network. You can come to the HIHH platform and get a second opinion from a culture sensitive or culture aligned doctor.
Chery: We’re posting more providers, making sure they have training in health equity and cultural competencies, and deepening the dialogue about what it means to care for black women. Where do we have gaps? How might we actually take their stories, learn from them, and change our behaviors in healthcare practice? So I’m really excited to see how much we are growing and the ideas we have.
What this means for you
To join Health In Her HUE, follow the download instructions at app.healthinherhue.com.
Verywell: What has been the impact of HIHH so far?
Wisdom: We get a lot of messages from patients and providers who tell us that they are really grateful for what we’ve built because they’ve been able to make really meaningful connections and have had better experiences with providers.
Since using the HIHH platform, a doctor told us that she was able to diagnose a woman who had a lot of fibroids. The woman had complained to other doctors and no one had ever taken the time to do an ultrasound. This patient found [the doctor] on HIHH, and the doctor did an ultrasound and was able to support her. These are just some of the life changing connections that we have been able to make and want to be able to continue to make.
Verywell: What do you want readers to take away from this story?
Wisdom: We advocate as a business that the community plays a huge role in the care and quality of care people receive. I think a lot of times it’s undervalued, but the only thing we constantly hear from our members is how much they value the community component. If you’re diagnosed with, say, breast cancer, and even though your doctor is a doctor of color, he’s never been diagnosed with breast cancer, he doesn’t really know the path you’re about to take. ‘undertake. through.
So connecting with other women who have had the same diagnosis as you, or who have gone through something similar to you, helps you feel truly supported and not isolated in your experience.
Chery: I hope people who engage with our platform understand that this is our first bridge to building trust. We cannot assume that we are automatically placed in trust because many of us are black women who work as a team. But we did it with the greatest respect and the desire to make real change.