AHA Innovation Dialogue Explores Efforts to Improve Women’s Health, Equity

AHA Innovation Dialogue Explores Efforts to Improve Women’s Health, Equity. A female clinician speaks with a Black woman about her health. The two are surrounded by images from healthcare: birth-control pills and other medications; a fertilized egg, a microscope, test tubes in a laboratory, an IVF fertilized egg, a pregnancy test, a blood sample.

As venture funds go, SteelSky Ventures may be small, but it hopes to make a big impact. The fund, which has raised about $82 million, invests in early-stage startups focused on improving women’s health outcomes. Part of SteelSky’s mission is looking for companies that address gender and racial equality and geographic diversity within the Medicaid population.

SteelSky is among a growing number of health-equity funds trying to give greater opportunity to female and racially diverse entrepreneurs focused on developing solutions for health care providers. The AHA, Henry Ford Health, MultiCare Health System and others have provided early financing for the fund.

In a new AHA Innovation Dialogue, AHA Maternal and Child Health Council Chair Lara Khouri, executive vice president and chief strategy and transformation officer at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, talks with SteelSky Ventures Founding Partner Maria Velissaris about where the fund is headed.

Velissaris says SteelSky ultimately views itself as a solution provider for hospitals and health systems, payers and women across the globe. The fund also is a conduit to innovative and historically underrepresented entrepreneurs, sharing information from provider organizations and pharmaceutical companies to help startups respond to their future customers’ needs.

The video also illustrates why women’s and children’s health share a common reality when comes to innovation. Both tend to be underrepresented in research and development funding.

Khouri provides an update on Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ participation in the KidsX accelerator, an international consortium focused on improving digital health innovation through collaboration. Among the technologies the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles accelerator supports are:

  • Voice biomarkers to screen for depression in children while providers are talking with them and their families.
  • Digital therapeutics that can trace depression through app-based cognitive behavioral therapy.
  • Systems to improve screening diagnosis and treatment of behavioral and mental health conditions.

Khouri also shares insights on a virtual autism assessment program begun through her hospital’s office of virtual care.

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