Seeking Brighter Lives for Latinx Children

Smiling kid

Latinx Families Facing Unique Social, Emotional and Health Issues

Health issues in the Latinx community, like obesity, diabetes, asthma and depression, impact children across America, but social determinants of health (SDOH) are stronger influences in the Latinx population, leading to disproportionate health disparities.

With one in four Latinx children having at least one undocumented immigrant parent, families often avoid seeking healthcare or asking for help from social institutions. At the same time, political and social stresses have created an environment where Latinx children and youth are experiencing increased rates of anxiety, depression, and a sense of social isolation.

Omkar Kulkarni, MPH

Looking to address health disparities facing California’s Latinx families, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) is partnering with HIMSS in a new developer challenge. “There’s a whole effort going on now to leverage technology that impacts social and emotional determinants of health. We’re looking for new ideas and different angles to tackle this,” says Omkar Kulkarni, MPH, chief innovation officer at CHLA.

“There’s so much more we can do – especially leveraging technology to alleviate some of the issues impacting kids and families in Los Angeles and in many other cities across the country,” said Kulkarni.

Among the 2.5 million children in Los Angeles, more than 60 percent seen at CHLA are in the Latinx population with 40 percent primarily speaking Spanish. “We’re excited to come together with HIMSS to brainstorm solutions and improve mental health and to address barriers preventing the Latinx community from accessing social services and healthcare, particularly in pediatrics. We want to work with the developer community to start solving these problems.”

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’s Chief Innovation Officer Omkar Kulkarni discusses the health challenges facing Latinx youth and how technology can help.

How the Healthcare Community can “Influence the Recipe”

“The difference is that startups have already got an idea or built a product, with ingredients in the pan and baking. The beauty of a developer challenge is being in the ingredient phase. This is when the healthcare community can really influence the recipe. We can co-create with developers – and that’s important when we’re facing unique problems and complex like health equity.”

For Kulkarni, this is an opportunity to collect new and fresh approaches. “If I had an idea on how to solve this problem, I could easily go to a developer and say, ‘Let’s build it.’ But a developer challenge allows us to expand our imagination with ideas we hadn’t thought about.”

He sees the impact of the developer challenge going far beyond CHLA and the Los Angeles Latinx community. “When we select developer solutions and they’re successful, our relationship with HIMSS provides access to a large network of health providers. That means we can test and deploy these tech solutions in other communities facing these same issues, from Boston to New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and other cities across the country.”

HIMSS and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles Latinx Health Equity Developer Challenge

Developers are invited to enter the HIMSS Innovation Center and CHLA Latinx Health Equity developer challenge. Areas of focus include mental health and resilience, advancing access to healthcare and leveraging value of social services.

Three winners will be awarded seed grant funding up to $10,000.

Entry deadline is April 26.