The health disparities of minorities in the United States is a crucial issue. According to the American Bar, minorities receive lower quality health care in comparison to other races. Oftentimes minority patients say they feel unheard in their doctor’s office.
However, Kesha Lee and Carlisha Gentles have worked together to build Salveo Innovations, a tech based company that provides a solution to several health issues surrounding patient health literacy, information and receiving the best care.
Carlisha Gentles, the co-founder of Salveo Innovations explains, “I’ve seen too often people not even being able to navigate our complex health care system and definitely not being able to understand the unfamiliar terms and the health care jargon that is used. We want to make sure that we’re putting things in place to make the most of their healthcare decisions and health information that’s given to them.”
Kesha Lee is also a co-founder of Salveo Innovations and has experienced the difficulties of not being able to communicate with doctors. “Not having culturally responsive communication can be detrimental. It’s not just an inconvenience, but really detrimental to our lives. And so we’re committed to being in a world and living in a world where we don’t have those types of disparities,” Lee added.
Gentles and Lee created a health care focused application that gives users access to easily attainable health information when they need it. The app is known as ‘Tyrone’ and it uses an adaptive language that continues to increase its knowledge the more the user interacts with it.
“Tyrone, which is a mobile application that helps to bridge those communication gaps between healthcare providers and patients, does so by using artificial intelligence, machine learning and adaptive language technology. And the ultimate goal is to ensure that people have health information in an easily digestible and accessible format where they can use it to make the most informed health care decisions possible,” Gentles explained.
Similarly to Siri, you can ask ‘Tyrone’ a health related question and he will answer or quickly find the answer. In addition, the application can check your symptoms, access local recommendations, and simplify your personalized health information.
Both Kesha Lee and Carlisha Gentles are dedicated to education and helping people get access to things that are essential among their human rights.
They saw a problem within the healthcare system and they knew something had to be done, “we’ve seen the work that needs to be done and we’ve stepped up to the plate to make sure we can be those individuals to do what we can to help bolster, empower our communities with a greater sense of self agency and do all we can to eliminate those disparities,” Gentles explained.
It all started with a community health innovator program. During the program Gentles and Lee pitched Salveo innovations to the John Hopkins Ward Infinity program in D.C. Most importantly, the program provided them with the seed funding that was the foundation in starting Salveo Innovations.
During their research the cofounders learned that there are three main areas that patients struggle navigating. Those three include checking your symptoms, creating an appointment, and getting questions answered.
“Tyrone will give you a breakdown in layman’s terms using culturally sensitive language to further help you understand what your doctor was explaining to you,” Gentles said.
Although the application is not available yet they are working to get it out. “Currently, we have a clickable prototype that we’ve been using to do our field testing in New York, D.C., and then forthcoming here in New Orleans,” Lee explains.
Gentles and Lee said they are hopeful that ‘Tyrone 1.0’ will be available this summer. “That will be a functioning application but the fully fledged application is what we’re currently raising funds for. So that’s going to be a bit more costly as we integrate machine learning and adaptive language,” Lee said.
Nonetheless, the health based application will soon be available for Americans right from their phones. Meanwhile, the co-founders plan to focus on under-resourced and underserved communities as a top priority.
“We definitely are focusing on under-resourced and underserved communities. I mean, I think Kesha always ultimately puts it best that if you design with the margin in mind that everyone can benefit. So even though that’s definitely our focus, so many outside of that can also benefit. But we do know and the statistics show that particularly black and brown communities definitely need additional assistance in these areas,” Gentles said.
In order to cater to underserved communities the application will have a free and premium version in the app store. Simultaneously, instead of hitting the pockets of patients, “our target stakeholder or customer in this case, it’s actually your third party, tertiary medical institutions and third party payers. So your Athena’s or Blue Cross Blue Shield, United Healthcare because we don’t want access to this to be yet another barrier and causing further health inequities,” Gentles said.