The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a long-standing problem to the forefront – racial and ethnic disparities in health care.
Reports show that African Americans are dying from COVID-19 at a higher rate than other races. Louisiana reported African Americans account for 70 percent of coronavirus-related deaths. DC reported 58 percent and Michigan reported 42 percent, a state where African Americans only make up 14 percent of the population.
“There have been a number of articles about the need to collect racial and ethnic data for COVID-19,” said Tiffany Jordan, chief development officer at Acclinate Genetics, a minority-owned, Huntsville-based company that strives to achieve health equity and personalized health care for all by diversifying genomic data and clinical research.
“Yes, we need to utilize the data collected to create a strategy, a strategy that will allow us to overcome some of the current health inequalities. These inequalities are currently impacting the care people receive and that is not fair.”
Jordan said this is also an awareness issue.
“We must ensure that minorities are properly educated on the past medical injustices and the rapidly advancing pharmaceutical industry,” she said. “We need to encourage minorities to ask the right questions and play a role in creating a solution for generations to come.”
Surgeon General Jerome Adams recently discussed the lack of health equity and the importance of educating the African American community about their risk.
“My office, long before COVID-19, has been talking about health equity and the need to help people understand when they’re at risk and to actually intervene,” said Adams. “We know that blacks are more likely to have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease.
“I and many black Americans are at higher risk for COVID, which is why we need everyone to do their part to slow the spread.”
Acclinate Genetics helps bio-pharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations achieve the most representative research sample by expanding their genomic studies and clinical trials to include diverse ethnic groups.
“Having the data is one thing,” said Jordan. “Doing something with the data is something much greater.”
Creating the actionable, personalized analysis of the data is why Acclinate Genetics is partnering with RippleWorx, Inc., a Huntsville-based, SaaS (Software as a Service) company.
RippleWorx provides a holistic approach to human performance by analyzing cognitive and physiological data and using machine-learning to solve complex problems, such as when are athletes at their peak performance and when are they susceptible to injury.
“Partnering with RippleWorx was a no-brainer,” said Jordan. “Their team of experts is already looking at this type of data to determine what affects people more – identifying factors that keep people from performing at their best – physically and mentally.”
Dr. Timo Sandritter, president and co-founder of RippleWorx, firmly believes in this mission for equity in health care.
“We can’t have a ‘one shoe fits all’ philosophy under health care, or anywhere else for that matter,” he said. “We need to ensure that we service the groups that need it and where they need it. We are quick to celebrate our differences in many ways.
“We also need to embrace a health-care system that’s tailored toward those needs.”
Together, Acclinate Genetics and RippleWorx, are ready to fight war on equality in all areas, whether it’s COVID-19, or in future health-care needs, so each race is accurately represented and data and results are comprehensive.