Yamicia Connor, MD, PhD was most recently a Chief Resident Physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA. She has a diverse training background in medicine, science and engineering. Yamicia received a dual SB degree in Biology and Chemical/Biological Engineering and a minor in Biomedical Engineering from MIT in 2007, where she developed research interests at the intersection of medicine, engineering, and science. She further cultivated these interests in graduate school, where she obtained a PhD in Health Sciences and Technology: Medical Engineering and Medical Physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013 and a medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 2016. She was recognized as a 2019 STAT Wunderkind, a cohort of the best young researchers in health and medicine in North America as chosen by STAT’s editorial staff. Dr. Connor founded Tech Tutors, an educational services provider that specialized in technical fields. She was also featured in the “I Am a Scientist” Campaign aimed at providing tools to make STE(A)M careers technically and psychologically accessible to all students. Dr. Connor hopes to use her passion for science, engineering, and medicine to promote the health of all women. She is interested in developing a comprehensive and generalizable approach to incorporate disparities into the quality improvement process; she proposes that we change the way we think about health care disparities and manage these issues with the same scientific rigor that we approach any other problem in medicine.
Yamicia Connor, MD, PhD, MPH
Gynecology-oncology Fellow, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
“Health Equity Hackathon: Bringing Diverse Minds Together to Solve Large Problems”
Can we build a low-cost, rapid process for generating health equity innovations using a hackathon model?
(1) To produce a model for interdisciplinary collaboration in order to combat health inequities
(2) To provide a low-cost, rapid process for development of scalable, innovative ideas to address Atrius Health’s specific health equity-related needs
Hackathons are a mechanism for rapid innovation, traditionally used in the field of software development. Since the first Hackathon in 1999 launched by Sun Microsystems, hackathons have been used by many organizations in private industry, universities, NGOs, and governmental agencies to inspire innovation. GroupMe and Zapier are two well-known companies that have emerged from hackathons. Historically, healthcare institutions have not participated in hackathons. Since 2010, hackathons have become more popular in healthcare settings, though very few hackathons have been equity focused.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the health inequities that have been present within our society since its inception. Brown and black communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 but the conditions that led to these disparities are not new. Black men and women have always suffered from greater disease burden and therefore lower life expectancy compared to their white counterparts. Furthermore, there has been little improvement in disparities of life expectancy over the past 30 years. Over 90% of quality metrics measured by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) indicate that quality of care is either worsening or remains unchanged for minority populations. We hypothesize that hackathons can be used to drive innovation for health equity to tackle the problem of stagnated outcomes in health equity. We also hypothesized that a collaboration including partners providing the hackathon experience, the health equity experience, and a sponsoring health system would increase the likelihood of success.
The concept for the health equity hackathon was developed by harnessing the power of engineering to drive innovation with the goal of reframing health equity from a descriptive, academic framework into an intervention-focused framework that is community-based, patient focused, and collaborative. Our approach involved the following.
(1) Convening stakeholders and discussing an array of possible approaches. The three primary collaborating organizations are (1) Atrius Health, a physician-led accountable care organization, (2) MIT hacking racism, a subset of the MIT Hacking Medicine with a specific focus on dismantling structural racism in healthcare, and (3) Race to Better Health, a patient-centered interdisciplinary organization dedicated to Engineering Health Equity.
(2) Securing resources and developing a relationship with the sponsoring organization
(3) Design of the pre-hackathon workshops in order to give participants a foundation in health equity
(4) Development and execution of the hackathon
(5) Post-Hackathon: Continued mentorship of the winning teams to implement and test the innovations
(6) Evaluation and assessment of the programming
(7) Dissemination of results and scaling considerations
We have been successful in securing financial resources ($25,000) and are in process of development of the pre-hackathon curriculum and post-hackathon mentorship program.
Future: Pre-hackathon events (July - Sept. 2021), hackathon (Sept 2021), post-hackathon, evaluation, dissemination (Oct. 2021 - March 2022)
Preceptors: Brenda Thompson Stuckey, Director, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Atrius Health, Joe Kimura, MD, MPH, CMO of Atrius Health