Unique webinar series spotlights the importance of diversity in healthcare.
Recently the Johnson & Johnson Institute sponsored a recent webinar series from Advances in Surgery, expert panelists from around the world discussed challenges and solutions to implementing diversity within the healthcare space. The series highlighted how although the healthcare community has come a long way, far too many healthcare practitioners still experience discrimination throughout their careers. The series also examined the role that institutions and medical societies can play in creating change within the industry and emphasized how increasing diversity and building equity can help dismantle barriers patients face when seeking care, enabling a greater continuum of care for all.
The first webinar, Challenges and Solutions in Healthcare to Diversity, focused on the barriers to making the industry inclusive for all, and equitable, so that people of marginalized backgrounds can grow and flourish in their careers. The international panel included:
- April Roslani, Dean and Head of General and Colorectal Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Francis Chinegwundoh, Honorary Visiting Professor in Health Sciences at City University London, Consultant Urological Surgeon
- L.D. Britt, Executive Director of the Society of Black Academic Surgeons (SBAS), Past President of the SBAS, Past President of the American College of Surgeons (ACS)
- Tracy Hull, Past President American Society of Colon & Rectal Surgeons (ASCRS), Department of Colorectal Surgery, Chief of IBD Department, Cleveland Clinic Ohio, USA
- Valerie Rusch, Chair, Department of Thoracic Surgery, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Past President of the American College of Surgeons (ACS)
- Charles Bridges, Chief Technology Officer and Head of Cross-Enterprise Innovation, Cardiovascular, Metabolism, Retina and Pulmonary Hypertension Therapeutic Areas, Janssen Research and Development
Dr. Bridges spoke on diversity in innovation, and highlighted Johnson & Johnson’s very own “Quick Fire Challenge”, a series of global competitions that attract innovators from around the world bringing them into the innovative Johnson & Johnson network of JLABS incubators. He described the first-ever, Diversity in Innovation Quick Fire Challenge in 2020. This unique opportunity provided $300,000 in grant funding and mentorship within the Johnson & Johnson family of companies and celebrated diverse entrepreneurs and business owners. The winners included Cura Therapeutics, Theradaptive, Tezcat Laboratories and Seaspire Skincare.
“The QuickFire Challenge was extremely successful and allowed us to identify four companies who were either owned, operated or founded by innovators of color,” said Bridges. “The fact that it was the third largest number of completed applications that we ever received clearly underscores the unmet need that we addressed. We think this will create value for those innovators, for Johnson & Johnson and for society at large, and serve as a template for ongoing efforts to enhance diversity in innovation at Johnson & Johnson and beyond.
The second webinar, Successfully Achieving Diversity in Healthcare, focused on different approaches to solving inequality in healthcare systems. Panelists included:
- Sharon Stein, Associate Professor of Surgery, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, USA
- Andrea Hayes-Jordan, Chief, Division of Pediatric Surgery, UNC School of Medicine, USA
- Quan-Yang Duh, Professor of Surgery, Division of General Surgery, Chief of Endocrine Surgery Department, UCSF, USA
- Minerva Romero Arenas, General & Endocrine Surgeon, New York, Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Department of Surgery, Weill Cornell Medicine, USA
- Carla Pugh, Professor of Surgery at Stanford University School of Medicine, USA
- Melina Kibbe, Editor-in-Chief, JAMA Surgery Chair, Department of Surgery, University of North Carolina, USA
- Pierre Theodore, Vice President of Global External Innovation at Johnson & Johnson, Adjunct Associate Professor of Cardiac Surgery, Stanford University, USA
Dr. Theodore discussed health equity and how the private sector can help make healthcare more accessible and affordable for the world’s most vulnerable and underserved populations. One way he noted is through expanding surgical product training to a wider range of healthcare workers, which can strengthen the standard of care for patient groups from diverse communities. Dr. Theodore also mentioned the importance of pushing forth opportunities for diversity, equity and inclusion efforts on all levels, from within surgical societies and community groups, to broader scale public policy lobbying for equitable legislation.
“Diversity ultimately has an impact on equity in the communities that we serve,” said Dr. Theodore. “And I think we often lose sight of the fact that…we are driving towards more equitable healthcare systems that address the needs of traditionally disadvantaged communities beyond our academic spheres.”
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