Achieving Health Equity in a World of Data

Friday, Oct 21, 2022 - Saturday, Oct 22, 2022
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
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A Sawyer Seminar on Precision and Uncertainty in a World of Data sponsored by the Department of History of Medicine, Department of Anthropology, Center for Medical Humanities and Social Medicine, Berman Institute of Bioethics, Just Tech, & the Center for Health Equity

Digital Health, defined by the FDA as including “categories such as mobile health (mHealth), health information technology (IT), wearable devices, telehealth and telemedicine, and personalized medicine” has the potential to empower patients to make better decisions about their own health while facilitating prevention, providing early diagnosis, surveillance, management and prediction of chronic conditions. New health technologies also help clinicians improve health outcomes through greater access to and use of patient data. At the same time, digital health poses a risk of reinforcing racial disparities in healthcare through algorithmic bias, digital redlining, tacit racism in clinical documentation, unrepresentative data, and the lack of diversity in the decision-makers and users of health informatics applications. Added to this, the potential compromise of patients’ privacy, the lack of health data integration, data overload issues, security concerns, and limited or inefficient data visualization are upstream and downstream obstacles to digital health’s potential to transform healthcare. Combined with technical anxiety and slow adoption of digital health innovation, these myriad factors limit the capacity of digital health to facilitate health equity.

Grappling with the problem that race and racism poses for digital health, and the great potential that digital health represents to reduce or exacerbate existing health disparities, requires discussion and inquiry across several domains of technical expertise, clinical experience, and critical humanities and social sciences. This conference aims to serve as a forum to engage with the opportunities and challenges/risks? of digital health and health informatics from historical, ethnographic, ethical, economic, and pragmatic perspectives. It invites submissions from a variety of methodological, theoretical, and multidisciplinary perspectives. Theoretical work that engages critically with the debate about the promises and pitfalls of digital health in the context of race and health equity are particularly welcome. We also welcome proposals for “hands-on” data sessions and workshops, as well as submissions (talks and hands-on sessions) from students, practitioners, IT professionals, and those employed in industry.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Racism in the digital health workforce
  • Algorithmic bias and oppression
  • Health informatics and health equity
  • Knowledge sharing and knowledge seeking of online racial health communities
  • Racism in knowledge discovery and decision support and clinical decision making systems
  • Race/racism within clinical documentation in EHR/EMRs
  • Community engagement and user experience design of EHRs/EMRs
  • Personal health records/patient portals and health equity
  • Social justice and digital health
  • Theories, models and classification frameworks that shed light on structural racism in digital health and health informatics
  • Interdisciplinary methods for studying racism in digital health and their  impact on individuals, communities (societies) and organizations
  • Understanding how individuals, communities and organizations can minimize, prevent or respond to racism in digital health
  • Bioethics and digital health

Submissions should include a 300-word abstract and your contact information including full name, organization/institution (if applicable), email address, and phone number.


SUBMIT HERE: [email protected]

Please contact Administrative Program Coordinator Marian Robbins at [email protected] with any questions or concerns.


At this time, we plan for the Achieving Health Equity in a World of Data conference to be fully hybrid with the in-person components to be held at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. We will be assessing the pandemic conditions closer to the date of the conference and will communicate any changes both on our webpage (here) and on the History of Medicine department twitter account @ihmjhu.