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A Healthy Dose with Toyin Ajayi, M.D.

The chief health officer of Sidewalk Labs on transforming the patient experience for underserved communities

By Steve Kraus 1.4.19

Toyin Ajayi is Chief Health Officer at Sidewalk Labs’ Care Lab, a New York-based health and social services company focused on providing integrated health and social care for low-income urban populations with complex health and social needs.

In this episode, you will learn:

1. The essential role trust plays when cultivating patient-first communities

“When I was working in a government hospital in Sierra Leone, it was the poorest country in the world and not in active warfare. We looked around and were astonished,” Toyin recalls.

“It was a free hospital for children with no user fees. Technically, there was ‘absolute access’ and people could get to the hospital. Yet, people chose not to come. This was partly due to the fact that patients didn’t feel respected. They didn’t feel like people listened to them. They didn’t feel like people addressed the things that mattered most to them,” Toyin tells A Health Dose.

2. Toyin’s pragmatism when improving access for underserved communities

Cityblock Health works through accessibility issues as a mission-driven organization that seeks to improve and transform the patient experience of care, “and to do so in a way that is sustainable by the rules and credos that govern the healthcare system in the United States.”

Despite her fundamental belief that healthcare is a human right and should be delivered to every person, regardless of their ability to pay, Toyin acknowledges, “The free market is one of the main [healthcare] levers we have to use today. Let’s figure out how we can use existing pair structures and the consumerization of healthcare to expand true access to healthcare for underserved populations.”

3. Addressing social determinants is key to addressing health

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“Healthcare is becoming more and more expansive, but I worry we’ll continue to balkanize what is a society problem and apply a healthcare solution to it.”

“We’re still treating symptoms of poverty, inequality, and a lack of a social safety net,” Toyin remarks. There’s a lack of investment in fundamental basic living standard for people in the United States, and public health advocates, such as Toyin, chip away at treating the symptom from a healthcare perspective.

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