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Highlights from ‘Capital B Fest: Day 2’

We ask experts about solutions to diversity in tech, and how technology can improve Black health outcomes.

Growing the Pipeline 

Tech journalist Sidney Fussell spoke with Sherrell Dorsey, founder and CEO of The Plug, about the issue of diversity in tech and what’s being done to correct it. Dorsey talked about what’s at the heart of complicated “pipeline” issues.

“When we talk about pipelines, it’s not for lack of the support of organizations or people or communities wanting to be in these tech environments. Quite truly, there’s an information access issue. There’s also a challenge when we think about our education, our school systems, some of the failures in Black and brown communities, and particularly lower income communities, and also when we think about exposure. Then, of course, quite generally what we do best here in America, which is discrimination and locking people out of opportunities. So, it’s a very multifaceted challenge” 

Tech for Good: Health Equity 

Capital B national health reporter Margo Snipe was joined by the founder and CEO of K’ept Health, Sheena Franklin, and Emily Brown, the founder and CEO of Free from Market, for a conversation about how technology and Black health intersect. Brown and Franklin have identified issues or gaps in care and resources when it comes to Black health and made their own solution. One is a first-of-its-kind digital dermatology and skincare clinic, founded by Franklin. Free from Market provides affordable, inclusive access to the foods and resources necessary to improve health. Here’s a snippet of their conversation.

Margo Snipe: Something that I’ve been noticing, the sort of wave of digital technology, whether it’s telehealth, or apps, specifically designed to engage specific communities, or get community specific information. How do you think that will bridge the gap in some of these inequities? 

Emily Brown: Twenty-four percent, or 1 in 4 Americans, live in what the USDA terms a food desert. We know that healthy food is not always accessible, it may not be in your community. It’s not just an affordability issue, it’s just not available to you. For us it’s getting that food direct to the door, through a model that empowers the users. Technology allows us to then get those resources into communities where the physical infrastructure is not available.

Sheena Franklin: Telemedicine has the ability to close these health equity gaps, when it comes to actually receiving care, right? We have the mindset of, we’re building upon what the Emilys are out there doing, right? The access is about whether you’re in an urban area and you have challenges, in a rural area and you have challenges. Once you’re on that telemedicine app, what we’re trying to do is provide the information. How are we formulating questions? How are we starting to break down these barriers that a doctor has, subconsciously or consciously, that they’re putting onto the patient? That’s the telemedicine part, but we also expand that, and we say, “How can AI improve recommendations?” A lot of folks focus on providing their recommendations for the patient, but for us we know there’s this gap in education. So, how do we create this integrative, inclusive AI system, right? We’re trying to be the first in the market with equal representation of skin of color. 

You can watch a replay of Day 1 and Day 2’s conversations on our YouTube channel. To keep up with Capital B and join in our events, you can become a member, or subscribe to our newsletter.