A new app concept, known as “the Yelp for the health equity movement” will be featured at the MIT Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Hackathon happening April 27-29 at the MIT Media Lab in Boston.
“Irth is birth, but we dropped the B for bias,” says Kimberly Seals Allers, nationally recognized maternal and infant health advocate who developed the app concept after her own experiences. “I read several reviews and received great recommendations from my white girlfriends. This was supposedly a top-rated hospital. But my own birth experience as a college-educated, unwed, black woman left me feeling traumatized and disrespected. Then I realized that other black and brown women had similar experiences, even at the “best” hospitals. It was clear to me that not all types of people experience the same hospital in the same way,” says Seals Allers.
Irth collects birth experiences and allows users to enter information about themselves, including race, class, gender identification, or even sexual orientation to find a detailed hospital review and rating from someone similar to you.
“A review from a middle-class white woman does not necessarily help a low-income black woman, a transgender person, or a same-sex couple understand what their experience may be like. With Irth, you tell us exactly who you are and we find a review and rating from a person just like you, ” Seals Allers explains.
Compelling research proves that implicit bias, including your race, class, gender identification, or even sexual orientation can impact the care you receive. Until now there has been no consumer application to capture and share experiences of bias from actual patients.
Bias in medical care has been specifically linked to the country’s high infant and maternal mortality rates as recently featured in The New York Times. In a Vogue article, tennis star Serena Williams shared how she almost died after her own health directives were repeatedly ignored.
“Collecting the intersectional experiences of birth at U.S. hospitals, gives us the data to push for social change and greater accountability.” she adds. “We are building a community of Irth-ers who stand up for bias-free care.”
Irth will also feature unique content and expand to cover pediatricians, Ob/Gyns and other healthcare professionals. Irth is a project of Narrative Nation, a non-profit working to shift the narrative of health disparities with community-powered storytelling, media and technology.
The 2018 MIT Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Hackathon will draw hundreds of engineers, parents, designers, doctors as well as 30 companies from around the world to improve the technologies and experience of breastfeeding technologies. “We are honored to have the prestigious MIT community working on Irth during the hackathon,” Seals Allers says.