Trends we are following in school health, healthtech, equity and access, and public health

How a scrappy African startup could forever change the world of vaccines

The World Health Organization (WHO) is partnering with a small biotech startup, Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines based in Cape Town, South Africa, to bring groundbreaking technology and lifesaving vaccines to nations around the world. In addition, nations that have historically had trouble accessing the vaccines they need will have the opportunity to instead lead global vaccine production.

Highmark Health Launches Pilot Program Providing Medically-tailored Meals

Highmark Health is embracing the food-as-medicine movement by providing 2 medically-tailored meals a day to 1,000 individuals who are at high-risk for food insecurity and are living with chronic health conditions. With this pilot program, Highmark Health aims to provide further evidence on the link between nutrition and health, identify the potential to reduce total cost of care, and ultimately pull in other healthcare players, including insurers, to provide a long-term solution.

5 Important Facts About Over-the-Counter Birth Control Pills

Amid growing restrictions on abortion care, issues including reproductive rights, gender equity, and access to healthcare have increasingly gained public attention. Companies like HRA Pharma and Cadence Health have submitted applications to the FDA seeking approval for birth control pills to be available over the counter without prescription. This would be a notable step forward in breaking down barriers that have long prevented access to safe and effective contraceptive care.

J Balvin’s New Bilingual Mental Health App, OYE, Helps Latinxs Channel Emotion Into Creativity

J Balvin, a Colombian singer, is addressing mental health head-on by launching Oye, the first bilingual wellness app for Latinx communities. Oye aims to provide tools for Latinx and Gen Z to learn how to understand their emotions and transform them into creative actions. J Balvin is not only tearing down the stigma surrounding mental health, but he is also expanding support to include the Latinx community, which has historically seen higher rates of mental illness.

Zipline’s drones to deliver medicine in Salt Lake City area

Zipline, a California-based drone delivery and logistics company, has used drones to deliver medical supplies and PPE to communities in Rwanda as well as across the United States. They are now looking to take it one step further by using drones to deliver prescriptions and medications directly to your door, ultimately aiming to remove barriers and increase access to care.

WHO and WMO launch a new knowledge platform for climate and health

Yes, research has shown an undeniable link between climate and global health, but how can we use this research to drive actionable change? The World Health Organization (WHO) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) have designed an open-access knowledge platform that aims to bring users together across health, environmental, and climate science so we can better understand and ultimately reduce environmental impacts on our health.

First school-based clinic in Snohomish County opens at Meadowdale High

School-based healthcare is more important now than ever. A high school in Snohomish County opened a school-based health center where students can receive check-ups and sports physicals, immunizations, reproductive health services, and mental and behavioral health services. These services offer more affordable and accessible healthcare that is necessary to support students physically, mentally, and academically.

Indonesia launches its first home-grown COVID-19 vaccines

The latest non-Western nation to reduce its dependency on imported vaccines is Indonesia, whose state-owned pharmaceutical company BioPharma has developed a technology that involves inserting the antigen into yeast cells. As the company expands its facilities from producing 20 million to 140 million doses, the country will be able to significantly expand access to repeated boosters.

This Indigenous Scientist Helped Save Lives as COVID Devastated the Navajo Nation

When the Navajo Nation was left out of the first round of federal funding for COVID-19, Crystal Lee—a Navajo scientist and assistant professor at the University of New Mexico College of Public Health—jumped in to help her community. From providing masks to recommending culturally appropriate methods for stopping airborne spread and, ultimately, establishing mental health services, Lee has fought tirelessly for health equity.

Australia to restore video telehealth subsidy for rural mental health

For indigenous people in rural and regional Australia—whose populations suffer higher rates of mental health-related hospitalizations and suicide than urban areas—telehealth consultations have been critical to bridging gaps in psychiatric care. Recognizing the need for continued support, the current Health Ministry has reversed the previous government’s budget cuts by reinstating free access to video psychiatry treatment.

School-based clinics are key to reaching underserved children

For millions of children across the US, school-based health clinics are the only place where they can access critical medical care. Yet many of the 3000 centers operating in 30 states around the nation are facing funding shortages. The benefits of bolstering these services? Better attendance, lower risk of hospitalization, and increased rates of attending college.

How Medical Providers and Partners Can Work Toward Children’s Health Equity

With COVID-19 shedding light on the pediatric health equity crisis, telemedicine is a promising solution to close the gaps in access to care. But equally critical is a focus on community engagement to reach and involve families as a whole, especially when geographic challenges are compounded by technological disparities.

Call it data liberation day: Patients can now access all their health records digitally

Thanks to new federal rules, patients can now access their entire health records without the hurdles and fees of yore. That also means accessing details that had been formerly unavailable, as well as being able to determine where the information is shared—including syncing it to innovative personal health trackers.

COVID-19 Dashboard Creator Lauren Gardner Wins Lasker-Bloomberg Public Service Award

America’s top biomedical research prize has been awarded to Johns Hopkins professor Lauren Gardner, who created the world’s most trusted source for reliable, real-time data about the pandemic: the COVID-19 dashboard that became critical to developing policy guidelines and expanding public access to information.

Telehealth better than in-person visits on some quality measures: study

As telemedicine has expanded, an early study indicates that with some conditions and circumstances, outcomes can improve over in-person visits: Preventive care, continual monitoring and overall patient adherence may all benefit from the affordability and convenience of remote access.

Psychedelics are having a moment and women could be the ones to benefit

While women have traditionally been underrepresented in medical research, the emerging explorations of psychedelic drugs are centering around women and conditions that commonly affect them, such as postpartum depression, eating disorders, and menopause.

6 Experts Weigh In On The Present And The Future Of Mental Health

Increased anxiety due to social media. Toxic workplaces. A rise in eating disorders. ADHD. While the pandemic has shed light on the proliferation of mental health issues, startups are stepping in with innovative solutions to help close the accessibility gap for those seeking support.

Addressing social health drivers could be big business for innovators

Proximity to nutritious food. Safe and secure living environments. Transportation options. Exercise opportunities. Access to preventive care. These factors all play a critical role in individuals' health, and the former CEO of Merck suggests that entrepreneurs can play a role in improving such factors by collecting data, connecting healthcare to social services, raising health literacy, and expanding virtual care.

Avoiding bias in healthcare AI algorithms

AI algorithms can determine who receives what kind of care—and bias in these algorithms can have catastrophic results on outcomes. To keep AI from amplifying existing social inequities, it’s important to understand the factors that influence algorithms and to ensure that diversity is built into every aspect of AI development.

AR dogs in the waiting room: innovations in patient experience

Virtual fishing. Guided meditations. A customizable “puppy”—using Augmented Reality (AR). UC Health is upping its patient distraction techniques, using leading technologies to engage patients while they sit in the waiting room.

Telehealth could be key to solving transgender youth healthcare crisis

With certain states banning gender-affirming care, there is a growing need for families to seek critical medical and mental health services elsewhere. This author argues that telehealth offers a vital solution for getting vital care to transgender and gender-fluid kids and teens, who—without the right support—are at a high risk for depression and suicide.

CA considers expanding school health clinics

CA Governor Gavin Newsome will review a bill that would allocate $100 million to improve access to free medical, dental, and mental health services in many communities where children and their families may otherwise struggle to access care. But the inclusion of reproductive counseling—while not typically tied to pregnancy terminations on campus—is raising objections from anti-abortion activists.

Microparticles enable vaccines to be “self-boosting”

New technology in progress from MIT scientists could allow people to receive a complete course of vaccine in one shot, rather than multiple shots over time. Cup-like microparticles made of special polymers release their contents at separately timed intervals, so that one jab could provide full inoculation. In addition to increasing patient compliance, the technology could be useful for administering childhood vaccinations in underdeveloped countries that lack access to care.

FDA opens access to OTC hearing aids

Thanks to a new ruling by the Food and Drug Administration, millions of Americans who suffer from hearing loss will be able to acquire hearing aids in retail stores—without relying on expensive exams and fittings. The move promises to enable convenient and affordable access while encouraging innovation and competition in hearing aid technologies.

DIY blood tests spell consumer convenience and control

Thanks to experimentation spurred by the pandemic, new technology—as simple as a pin-prick followed by a light vacuum—enables anyone to collect their own blood sample and send it in for analysis. In addition to saving time by skipping a lab visit, people can also elect to keep their data private.

Two women scientists in Brazil invent new vaccine to increase global access

By developing an mRna COVID-19 vaccine that differs from the Moderna and Pfizer formulas, these two scientists are helping Brazil and other middle-income and developing nations manufacture their own vaccine supplies—and bypass the licensing fees that render the original vaccines primarily only available in rich countries.

Wearable ultrasound patch could expand access to medical imaging

Academic researchers have developed a stamp-sized stick-on patch as an alternative to bulky hospital ultrasound machines. The device can take frequent images to capture changes for up to 48 hours. Engineers envision syncing the information with a mobile device, with the potential to help monitor patients in regions with limited access to hospitals.

First brain-implanted computer empowers paralyzed patients

A Mount Sinai neurosurgeon recently completed the first-ever procedure to implant a brain-computer interface into a human; the technology was developed to enable severely paralyzed patients to control media devices with their brain signals. With this milestone, the company Synchron beats out a similar technology being developed by Elon Musk that has not yet been approved for patient insertion.


Contact us to submit articles and news of interest on topics of equity and access in healthcare.

Email Us