Ocasional Talk - Beza Merid

Innovation and Implementation: Proposing a Racial Justice Framework to Support the Use of Digital Health Technologies

Friday, April 9, 2021
11 a.m. - 12:30 Arizona time, via Zoom



Digital health technologies that enable users to track and manage symptoms of disease are often heralded as technologies that can transform the delivery of health care and solve problems like the persistence of racial disease disparities. Within the arena of cardiovascular disease (CVD), for example, many health care providers and researchers view the use of mobile health (mHealth) applications and wearable devices enabling patients to monitor their blood pressure at home as an innovative way to address the disproportionately high prevalence of hypertension among Black Americans. By encouraging the adoption of self-tracking practices using devices like the Apple Watch, proponents of these interventions situate technology as a silver bullet. But, as we know, the benefits of innovation are inequitably distributed, and the conditions that enable racial disease disparities to persist—including structural racism, the inaccessibility of medical care, and the unaffordability of health insurance—require more than a technological intervention. In this talk, I propose a racial justice framework for the design and deployment of digital health technologies that addresses these structural conditions, incorporates the expertise of the communities they seek to aid, and provides suggestions for thinking about policy solutions to address upstream drivers of health inequities in CVD.

Beza Merid, Ph.D., is a critical digital health studies scholar whose work examines the social, cultural, and political conditions shaping the design and use of technology to manage health. He earned his Ph.D. in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University. Currently appointed as an American Heart Association health equity research fellow in the Department of Cardiology at the University of Michigan Medical School, Beza is working to design a mobile health intervention that addresses both the immediate needs of hypertensive patients as well as the structural conditions that shape their illness experiences.