We’re shining the ProjectIMPACT Spotlight on Kwame Terra, MPH, an individual who is making a positive impact in healthcare by by building a digital health platform for the Black community. Terra is interviewed by Oyindayo Hassan, a fourth-year medical student at Meharry Medical College and VisualDx Student Advisory Board Member.
Please describe your company and what you hope to achieve with it
Kwame: Our first goal is to communicate to the Black community their current health status through the bEHR health score. bEHR provides real-time health scoring, personalized coaching, and access to culturally competent healthcare providers and resources.
The bEHR health score is a number between 0 and 1,000 that represents your overall health, or relative rate of aging. A person’s score will increase or decrease in near real time depending on how your lifestyle and health data changes over time. It’s like a credit score, but for your health.
Our vision at bEHR is to make health a part of Black culture– placing it at the core of how we live, learn, work, play, and celebrate in the Black community.
What do you see as the biggest challenges in reducing bias in healthcare?
Kwame: The biggest challenge to reducing bias in healthcare is training a more diverse workforce. In other words—we need more Black doctors.
Studies have shown that Black doctors are more likely to provide culturally competent care, understand the unique health needs and concerns of Black patients, and build trusting relationships. Improved communication and understanding can lead to increased patient satisfaction, better adherence to treatment plans, and ultimately, improved health outcomes.
Having diverse representation in the medical field is crucial for reducing bias and ensuring equitable healthcare for all.
oh: How will your platform change the face of healthcare?
Kwame: I believe our platform will transform healthcare by empowering individuals to take control of their own health through real-time health education and then use this real-time data to inform and drive the delivery of social and environmental solutions based on trends we see within different communities. Our platform addresses both the proximal and distal drivers of disease, while our current system focuses primarily on treating symptoms.
What or who inspires You?
Kwame: I am most inspired by the possibility of a better future for our society. My mission in life is to maximize human potential because if we’re not all that can be, we suffer more than we have to and so do those around us. I started my company because the policies, practices, and beliefs that have caused the current state of Black health were targeted at the Black community and I believe the solutions must be just as targeted—if not more.
What advice would you give to medical students or residents interested in addressing healthcare disparities?
Kwame: Health equity is about improving people’s quality of life, period. Quality of life is what has been taken through centuries of injustice and what must be restored to achieve health equity.
Consider the whole person in your care— their home environment, their culture, their education, their social support system. Not only will this lead to better outcomes, but the empathy developed through this attitude contributes to restoring the social fabric that our society depends on.
How do you pledge to make an impact to improve health equity?
Kwame: Health equity is at the core of the design and delivery of our products and services at bEHR. We are the only whole health platform using a community-based participatory research approach (CBPR) to design precision health solutions for the Black community. CBPR is an approach to research and development that engages researchers and community members as equal partners in the design and implementation of solutions for the community. This approach leads to more trust and fosters a sense of ownership, ultimately leading to greater adoption and better outcomes.
This Project IMPACT blog series was created to highlight leaders who are making a positive impact in healthcare by reducing racial bias in medicine.