Inclusivity and investment as a strategy; women of color (WOC) in startups; and entrepreneurs of various backgrounds could eradicate the historical problems in medicine.
Adopting the same approaches that were historically adopted to solve problems in medicine will give you the same results.
Studies have consistently shown symptoms of a disease may present differently based on gender. Neglecting to account for those differences has led to repeated misdiagnoses and failure to achieve desired therapeutic outcomes. Cardiovascular disease and Parkinson’s disease are great examples of this [1,2].
Why does this problem endure? Because the majority of research was conducted with panels made up of mostly Caucasian male subjects, and the findings and recommendations from those studies were extrapolated to apply to everyone .
Indisputably, people are diverse in many ways: age, gender, color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, as well as in thought, expression, physical ability, and environmental circumstance. All of which may influence our interpretation of information, creativity, personal preferences, and behaviors.
This is the point at which genetics ends and epi-genomics begins; where phenotypes fail to accurately reflect who we are as individuals. To this extent, the value of AI and the gains of personalized medicine hinge on our ability to take into consideration these variances and respectfully incorporate these additives into the technology-fuelled innovations we develop.
Regardless of whether we represent a well-established conglomerate, healthcare system or start-up, in business practice such revelations highlight the need to be open to intentional inclusivity. Intentional inclusivity is defined as a deliberately chosen means to achieving parity, inclusion, and representation. For instance, if your objective is to build intelligent applications to solve problems that promote education, behavioral modification, or the consumption of goods and services, then successfully achieving your objective is directly correlated to the extent to which you are engaging your target audience. This involves more than just soliciting feedback once a product has been built. Instead, this entails employing diverse talent, beginning with the ideation phase and throughout the management of the product life cycle.
As specialists in the field of AI medicine, such notions weigh heavily on our professional responsibility and equally heavily on the betterment of the solutions we engineer. Begin with the end in mind: we are far better positioned to address and eradicate the challenges that continue to persist in medicine when we use intentional inclusivity to our strategic advantage.
Gayle Jennings-O’Bryne, former Vice President of Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase and presently the Founder and CEO of iNTENT Manifesto, devotes her time to seeking out and cultivating female talent.
She explains: “We know that women can solve big market/consumer problems, build and run healthy companies and attract top talent. Unfortunately, the investment, purchasing power and support to grow women of color (WOC) startups isn’t keeping pace.” Through the iNTENT Manifesto, a social movement and investment education platform focused on women of color tech startups, Jennings-O’Byrne is drawing attention to a huge market opportunity.
She remarks: “Inclusion and representation of diverse voices, people, thinking and experiences will help us unlock the potential of AI, blockchain and other technologies to disrupt and advance medicine.”
We can confidently conclude that data alone is not enough to derive the true potential of technology in medicine. When technology, such as AI, is placed into the hands of a variety of individuals and entrepreneurs of varied backgrounds, not only does the monetary value of what we create become more apparent, but also the greater benefit to our humanity.
When asked to comment on the notion of intentional inclusivity, Jennings-O’Byrne responded with a closing question to us all: “Without intentional inclusion and investing, we’re just playing ball with half the team and certainly none of the A-team. We are INTENTIONAL on changing the market realities for women startups. What do you intend?”
By Frances A. Ayalasomayajula
See More on the topic of biases, diversity and inclusivity:
Part 1: The Gender Imabalance in AIMed
Part 2: The business case for diversity
or see the whole feature on Diversity & Inclusion in AIMed in AIMed Magazine issue 04 here.
Mosca, L., Barrett-Connor, E., & Wenger, N. K. (2011). Sex/Gender Differences in Cardiovascular Disease Prevention What a Difference a Decade Makes. Circulation, 124(19), 2145–2154. http://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.110.968792
Haaxma, C. A., Bloem, B. R., Borm, G. F., Oyen, W. J. G., Leenders, K. L., Eshuis, S., … Horstink, M. W. I. M. (2007). Gender differences in Parkinson’s disease. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, 78(8), 819–824. http://doi.org/10.1136/jnnp.2006.103788
Regitz-Zagrosek, V. (2012). Sex and gender differences in health: Science & Society Series on Sex and Science. EMBO Reports, 13(7), 596–603. http://doi.org/10.1038/embor.2012.87
For over 20 years, Fran Ayalasomayajula, executive healthcare strategist and technologist, has been dedicated to serving the interests of populations around the world in an effort to improve the quality of healthcare, provision access to healthcare, and increase health literacy and patient engagement.
Currently the Global Healthcare, Population Health Information Technology and Innovations Lead for HP, Inc., Fran directs the organization in the development of strategies and innovations designed to advance and deliver improved clinical outcomes and better population health. Prior to HP, Fran worked for major healthcare institutions, including WHO, CDC, BMS, and UHG. Fran holds degrees in epidemiology, public health, information technology, and certification in project and clinical trial management.
She is actively involved in community minded initiatives, such as rare disease patient advocacy, and the application of technology services for the promotion of aging with independence and community connectedness. In 2015, Fran was a contributing writer on the Fact Sheet submitted to the White House Conference on Aging, and in 2017 co-author of the LeadingAge whitepaper on Social Connectedness and Engagement Technology for Long-Term and Post-Acute Care.
She is presently a Board Member of the NHA of San Diego, member of the Center on Aging Services and Technologies, PCHAlliance, LeadingAge, APHA, special interest participant in the NAHC, and founder of IBHealthy, a 501(c)3 nonprofit digital health and wellness organization, whose mission is to provide ease of access to the resources needed to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle.