“New Voices” and The American Medical Association Platforms Black Health Innovators
Senior man holding hands with a male nurse.
Black people face increased barriers quality health care due to various socioeconomic factors. To help mitigate this, the New Voices Foundation joined forces with the American Medical Association to launch New Voices + In Full Health Innovators’ Hub at the 2023 ESSENCE Festival of Culture.
Five health innovation companies were selected to participate in a June 30th panel entitled “Meet Black Healthcare Innovators,” moderated by the American Medical Association’s Chief Health Equity Officer and SVP Aletha Maybank, MD, MPH, on the SOKO MRKT stage.
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The participating grantees included Dezbee McDaniel, Co-Founder & CEO, CliniSpan Health, Dr. Joy Cooper, Co-Founder & CEO, Culture Care, Gideon Thomas, Founder & CEO, Serious Health, Dr. Steven Moyo, Founder & CEO, Welf and Erica Plybeah, Founder & CEO, MedHaul.
These founders were also all provided with vending booths in the SOKO MRKT powered by ESSENCE from Friday, June 30th to Sunday, July 2nd at the 2023 ESSENCE Festival of Culture™.
The five grantees shared their experience partaking in the groundbreaking opportunity, and why it was so important to be a part of the inaugural New Voices + In Full Health Innovator.
“When the hub was announced, we were excited to be able to have a booth to connect with potential patients and find out who had an interest in our services,” said Dr. Joy Cooper.
Thomas adds: “We are very much aware of the challenges that family members face when seeking personalized, affordable, empathetic care for their loved ones. And we thought that we had a clear understanding of how to best support those thrust into the caregiver role. However, our participation in ESSENCE Festival allowed us to come face to face with the individuals we would potentially serve under our Hi Caregiver model. We learned that individuals are craving community, nutrition support, mental health provider recommendations – and much more. We had a plan and a vision of Hi Caregiver, but having the opportunity to hear the needs of our community allows us to pivot and build a model that is inclusive of their communication needs. Because we are “people-focused,” having the ability to hear a need, and immediately go to work to fill a void, is a true measure of success.”
Dezbee McDaniel, co-founder, and CEO at CliniSpan Health, shared that the ESSENCE Festival provided a great opportunity for connection to potential clients.
“We were able to grow our database by 4% just by attending ESSENCE [Festival],” McDaniel said. “It was the biggest and highest-performing event we have had to date. We average growing the database by around 2% per event, so this was at least doubly more impactful than normal.”
Dr. Steven Moyo found that the experience helped him tap back into himself after pouring into others as an entrepreneur.
“I think the most important thing that it did was rejuvenate,” Moyo said. “Being an entrepreneur is a long and hard road. And aligning your business with customers (health insurance/providers) sometimes pulls us away from our beneficiaries (families). Our focus is on families of color and how we can impact their health and wellness. Being part of the New Voices + In Full Health Innovators Hub allowed us to focus on the families, fully and intentionally. It was an amazing reminder of our “why” and helped restock the fuel for the fire.”
Nathalie Occean, COO at MedHaul shared that she’d gained validation for her personal and professional journey.
“It has been validating to be selected to participate because we know that what we are working on is seen as important by those who invited us in,” Occean said. “It’s one thing for us at MedHaul to know and understand the severity of the problems we are trying to solve but it drives us forward to know that we are not alone in that line of thought and have supporters who want to see us succeed.”