Innovation Hub Strives to Tackle Diversity in Healthcare

October 24, 2019

Icahn School of Medicine aims to use technology and data to address racism and gender equity and social determinants of health.

The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City announced the launch of a new Diversity and Inclusion Hub lead by Mount Sinai’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, according to a press release.

The Diversity and Inclusion Hub (DIH) will serve as an incubator for cutting-edge ideas with the use of the latest technology and data.

The hub represents a first-of-its-kind effort among medical institutions to diversify the pipeline as a career path while using innovation and technology to address social determinants of health in surrounding communities, the release says.

“As medical and research institutions around the country look to solve inequities and mitigate disparities in healthcare, we hope this project will become a model for others nationwide,” says Dennis S. Charney, MD, the Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz dean of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “To close long-standing gaps, we all need to innovate-and we need to engage local stakeholders in the process. At the Icahn School of Medicine, we’ve taken many steps to ensure that diversity and inclusion remain a central part of our mission as an institution, and we’re now building on that work. The DIH is a truly groundbreaking project, and I would like to thank Dr. Gary Butts, our Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, for spearheading it.”

Gary C. Butts, MD, dean for Diversity Programs, Policy and Community Affairs, says individuals need to diversify medicine and ensure diverse participation in the innovation space in order to ensure quality care for underserved communities. 

Related: Leverage Digital to Identify, Relay and Address Social Determinants of Health

“Equity-be it for our staff, students or patients-is vital to making our work a success. The Diversity Innovation Hub is a novel step forward in that effort,” says Butts. “It’s our hope that this will not only be a difference-maker for the neighborhoods surrounding Mount Sinai, but that it will meaningfully and intentionally further diversify our innovation and healthcare industries. No other medical institutions nationwide are doing this work, in this way, and we hope this will become a model for all to replicate.”

The Icahn School will develop new goals as the DIH positions the school as a continuing leader in the area, the release says.

First, it will aim to further the inclusion of people of color and women in health care innovation. Second, the existence of the DIH will allow the Mount Sinai community and its community partners to identify and use innovation and technology towards meaningful solutions in health care. Third, it will create a trust that can tackle problems and advance diversity and inclusion with innovative approaches on an ongoing and sustainable basis.

To accomplish those goals, the DIH will create a variety of design teams-one for students, one for trainees, one for administrative fellows, one for staff and one for community leaders and stakeholders.

These teams are designed to use the hub as an incubator for new ideas, identify resources and consider new investments to advance health care. The first phase of the DIH, which launched October 14, will provide mentorship, training and networking opportunities for those students and staff.

In addition to trainings focused on issues such as healthcare tech and bias, a multi-layered fellowship program will be offered to medical students and will serve as an ideas accelerator for addressing social determinants in health for underserved communities. 

While students and their teams pitch ideas for closing social problems relating to equity, the best ideas developed within the DIH will be connected with partners to support and invest in their concepts. The second phase of the program will lead to those ideas coming into fruition through pilot projects and demonstration work in various communities to address social determinants in health care, the release says.

Those within the school of medicine hope the DIH will influences partnerships with local key leaders and stakeholders in East and Central Harlem, Mount Sinai’s surrounding neighborhood, including 100 Black Men of New York, Silicon Harlem, local business leaders and entrepreneurs.

 

By engaging local community leaders, the DIH will aim to identify gaps in local healthcare delivery-and identify technological or data-driven solutions to close them, according to the release.