Blog 26: Health in Her HUE
Filling a critical healthcare gap to better serve the needs of Black women
Company: Health in Her HUE operates an online platform that helps Black women to have access to healthcare providers, telehealth services and health content, enabling members to comfortably connect and communicate with community doctors.
HQ Location & Year Founded: New York, 2018
Founder: Ashlee Wisdom is a public health innovator who is committed to dismantling racist systems. She is committed to building equitable solutions to overcome anti-Black racism and injustice in healthcare and achieving a more equitable and just healthcare ecosystem where ALL people can access the quality care they need and deserve. In addition to working in public health research and policy at several leading institutions, she is currently a fellow with the Aspen Institute. Ashlee graduated from Howard University and holds a Master’s in Healthcare Policy & Management from NYU.
Funds Raised and VC Investors: Over $1 million from BLXVC, Genius Guild, Graham & Walker Venture Fund), Pipeline Angels, Seae Ventures, Unseen Capital.
❖ Where did the idea for Health in Her HUE originate?
I have a background in public health and have worked in healthcare my entire career. This idea came while I was in grad school at NYU and working in a particular department at an academic medical center that was notorious for not being the most friendly to women of color faculty members and employees. They had a revolving door for Black employees. I had to work there in order to satisfy internship requirements for my master’s degree. During this time, I broke out in hives and went to see an allergist. I was told that I wasn’t allergic to anything and to go home and take two Allegras. However, after I left this job, the hives stopped. It turned out that it was tension and stress from my job where I was encountering regular subtle racism that was creating problems for my health.
As a grad student, I was reading scientific papers about disparate outcomes for Black women and women of color. On top of that, I was on the email list for New York alumni of Howard University, where I attended college. About twice a week people would ask for referrals to Black doctors or therapists. It got me wondering why we have to rely on social networks in order to find trusted providers. This got the wheels turning, hyper aware of Black women who are not getting adequate care. I began to wonder what I can do to take information from the “Ivory Tower” and make the highest quality health content and healthcare for Black women more accessible.
❖ What is the key problem that Health in Her HUE intends to solve?
Our platform is based on the creation of content from the lived experience as a Black woman. We talk about the four C’s: Connections, Content, Community and Consults. The product offers content (evidence-based health content tailored to women of color). We offer access to help our users find culturally sensitive providers by speciality, location, and accepted insurance. We offer a community forum for those with similar experiences or diagnoses to connect and not feel isolated. It is shocking that 25% of Black Americans live in areas with a shortage of primary care providers, let alone many critical specialist providers. Our platform is meant to help fill this gap.
❖ How are you most differentiated as a service?
We started with content and becoming the trusted source for health information navigation for women of color. We then built a community around HiHH to better understand the collective pain points from Black women. We then learned from our community, who were struggling to find providers who “look like me.” Our provider directory helps our users to find a Black doctor or therapist and we offer a safe space through our community forum.
We offer a”freemium” model thanks to our new premium web subscription. Free users have access to our directory, community forums, and three pieces of content per month. Paid users have unlimited access including written content, videos, and our event series. Once we raise our full seed round, we will begin to offer a telehealth experience. We have a virtual care squad program which combines evidence-based health information and guided peer support to women who are on a similar journey based on their condition. The women get access to curricula designed by a Board-certified physician, and provides them with a squad of peers and a HIHH facilitator who will guide them through the content and live discussions. We are currently running internal pilots with this and have our first health plan pilot to begin scaling this offering.
❖ What are the company’s key accomplishments to date?
We are a very scrappy team and when we released our first MVP, the platform suddenly went viral. We had six doctors, who posted on Instagram and Twitter, and within two weeks, we had registered 34,000 logins with email addresses. We had 55,000 people login to try the first product. It was a disjointed experience, so we created a downloadable app last year, which launched in May 2021. Today we have 1,000 providers and thousands more users. Our latest version just launched this past April.
❖ What lies ahead in the plans for Health in Her HUE?
We are purely D2C right now, but we are making headways in our enterprise strategy. We plan to sell into employers and health plans and have secured our first health plan pilot. We are looking forward to piloting telehealth as well.
Few aspects of healthcare delivery can be as frustrating as not getting the personalized attention and care that one expects and deserves, regardless of race, gender, nationality or income. Finding a provider who is culturally sensitive to the concerns of women of color, in particular, is one of the most difficult challenges to many patients. In fact, Black patients are proven to have better outcomes when treated by Black doctors. As one example, infant mortality rates have been shown to be reduced by as much as 50% when Black obstetricians are working with Black patients. While bias takes many forms, the lack of culturally sensitive care can simply come down to lack of shared experience and identity. Health in Her HUE is unapologetically tackling this problem head on. As a resource for finding providers, as well as information and community around health topics, the company is embarking on becoming the leader in redefining the structural difficulties of those who are overlooked in obtaining the right level of care and support at the time when they need it.