The High Stakes of Bias in Healthcare Technology

high-stakes-bias-healthcare tech

Technology is not neutral and, in healthcare, that can have disastrous consequences. We need to own our biases and start actively healing them – so that’s what I explore in this episode of Leading with Health. Here are the articles and reports mentioned in the show:

Highlights include:

4:30 – “Researchers believe the algorithm’s use of health costs as a proxy for health needs creates the bias. Less money is spent on black patients who have the same needs as white patients, so the algorithm inaccurately concludes that black patients are healthier.” – Source: Common healthcare algorithm biased, reduces care for black patients by more than half, study finds

5:12 – JM: “When we keep women and people of color and other marginalized groups off the team, we have fewer worlds of knowledge available to help us prevent making these kinds of mistakes.”

8:56 – JM: “Numbers aren’t neutral. They come from somewhere. So whatever you plug in to your code is going to be in the output.”

9:25 – ”Off all the technical education fields we studied, data science had the lowest representation of female students, at just 35.3%. Additionally, among these same technical fields, data science had the lowest percentage of African American and Latino/Hispanic students enrolled.” Source: The Data Science Diversity Gap

10:27 – “The proportion of female students majoring in computing in college is not just low – it has fallen dramatically. In 1984, 37% of computer science majors in the U.S. were women. Today, only 18% are.” Source: Accenture and Girls Who Code report, Cracking the Gender Code

12:27 – “Long before bumping into any glass ceiling, many women run into obstacles trying to grasp the very first rung of the management ladder—and not because they are pausing their careers to raise children—a new, five-year landmark study shows. As a result, it’s early in many women’s careers, not later, when they fall dramatically behind men in promotions, blowing open a gender gap that then widens every step up the chain.”
Source: Where Women Fall Behind at Work: The First Step Into Management

14:42 – “Senior men don’t think women have a problem finding sponsors to help them win plum assignments and promotions, but they themselves admit to balking at spending any one-on-one time with the women they’re responsible for championing.” Source: Where Women See Bias, Men See a ‘Pipeline Problem

15:57 – JM: “If we don’t own our biases and start actively seeking them out and healing them, we will continue to build these biases into every single thing we create. And, in healthcare, it’s not just technology for technology’s sake. We’re not building a video game. We’re talking about patient care.”

Leading with Health is the podcast where women dive into societal change through the lens of healthcare. Host Jennifer Michelle has a Master’s in Public Health and Epidemiology and is a certified EMT. As President of Michelle Marketing Strategies, Jennifer specializes in healthcare marketing. Jennifer is available to speak at conferences and also provides free marketing consultations. Contact her here.

Photo by Heather Gill on Unsplash