Dancing Through AI Bias In Healthcare | by Dr. Misty D. Freeman | Nov, 2023

Dr. Misty D. Freeman

To watch us dance is to hear our hearts speak. ~Hopi Indian Saying

Dance holds profound significance for black girls; it’s an empowering expression of their cultural identity, resilience, and creativity. Often, dance becomes a vessel through which black girls can reconnect with their heritage and celebrate the rhythms and movements passed down through generations. It provides a platform for them to assert their individuality, communicate emotions, and cultivate self-confidence.

But let’s examine the intricate dance between AI and healthcare, particularly regarding Gen Z black girls. Picture it as a dance floor where the rhythm of technology (AI) often misses the beat of their unique experiences (health). There’s so much to uncover.

We have the diagnosis; the next dance move is prescribing treatment. Now, studies have shown that biases in algorithms can affect not just the diagnosis but also what treatments are recommended. As far back as 2018, a study in the journal Science revealed that an algorithm widely used to guide healthcare decisions was less likely to recommend black people than white people for programs that aim to improve care for patients with complex medical needs. It’s 2023, and it remains the same; this means our Gen Z black girls might not be getting the full range of care options they deserve.

Now, let’s look at the tango of telemedicine. In the age of technology, telemedicine has become a significant partner in healthcare. However, only some have equal access to the virtual platform. Gen Z black girls, like many others in underserved communities, may face barriers to accessing telemedicine services due to factors like limited internet access or digital literacy. According to the Pew Research Center, black adults are less likely than white adults to have access to broadband internet at home, adding another layer to the disparities in healthcare accessibility.

And it’s only fitting that we twirl into mental health. An essential part of our well-being. AI is increasingly involved in mental health diagnostics, but here’s the catch — if the data it learned from is biased, the recommendations might not be as practical for our Gen Z black girls. Mental health diagnoses can already be stigmatized, and if algorithms are not trained on diverse datasets, it could perpetuate existing biases, making it harder for black girls to access appropriate mental health support.

So, in this dance performance, we need advocacy. We need community leaders, policymakers, and influencers to champion the cause of unbiased AI in healthcare. There’s power in collective voices, and when raised together, they can demand changes in algorithmic practices, ensuring that the dance of healthcare becomes more inclusive.

Education is the key behind these algorithms. We need initiatives to educate healthcare professionals and those in tech about the implications of bias in AI. Ultimately, it’s about creating a healthcare dance floor that is welcoming to all. “Slay What Ya Hear!”… there CAN be a performance where the rhythms of technology are tuned to the diverse beats of Gen Z black girls!

Dr. Misty grew up and currently lives in South Alabama. She lives about an hour south of Montgomery, which hosted several civil rights icons. Her childhood consisted of poverty and survival. She knew education was the only way out. As a black woman, she has experienced unconscious bias and racial microaggressions. This bias occurred in her pursuit of higher education and professional roles. She has had people ask to touch my hair, which implied that it was exotic or different, and they could touch it. She experienced store workers following her around in stores. Following her suggested that she did not belong. These experiences left her feeling terrible. Just imagine these behaviors and their impact on Gen Z black girls/women.

She has held various positions as an educator with over 20 years of experience. She worked as a social caseworker, special education teacher, school administrator, and director of special education. From her expertise, she quickly learned that there needs to be more focus on the experiences of Gen Z black girls/women. She addressed her calling: the desire to promote effective learning and inclusion for girls/women of color. There seems to be a gap in information on how unconscious bias impacts girls and women of color. In March 2021, Mocha Sprout was developed to help leaders and organizations achieve sustainable growth and become culturally responsive by creating new viewpoints. She is a thought leader, author, unconscious bias coach, and AI futurist. Her mission is to help others understand and transform their perspective of the impact of unconscious bias on girls and women of color at the intersection of learning, the workplace, and technology.

The vision for Mocha Sprout is for one to move beyond the surface and rise higher to cultivate new perspectives. On a personal note, she loves to write, read and travel. Also, she is a strong advocate for self-care.

Get my book- “Unconscious Algorithms”


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