For centuries, the Black American community has been underrepresented and unjustly treated in many areas, including health.
Every person deserves the right to top-quality care and treatment for every health issue, yet Black Americans continue to be subject to misdiagnosis, improper treatment, and disparities in healthcare.
Love and Marriage (Oprah Winfrey Network) star Tiffany Whitlow co-created NowIncluded as a resource for people to share, learn, and educate others on healthcare discrepancies and how to make a difference.
Along with her co-founder, Del Smith, she launched the innovative website as a digital resource and safe space for candid discourse, exclusively among other Black people.
The site, which is made up of thousands of users spanning multiple states, empowers users to exchange medical insights, excellent doctors, and valuable information amongst each other to help to make better informed decisions about their health and treatment options. Topics span from the importance of looking into unknown family medical histories, to navigating misdiagnoses, to searching for the right doctors and the right treatment and much more.
“As a young mom, my son was diagnosed with asthma,” Whitlow said. “When he was only a toddler, I discovered that his asthma medication, Albuterol, was significantly less effective for him than his white peers. Albuterol is used to prevent and treat wheezing and shortness of breath caused by asthma. It would allow my son to breathe […]”.
Whitlow has set out to spread awareness and make a change in the Black community around healthcare as the co-founder of biotech company, Acclinate, and its one-of-a-kind brand, Now Included.
The Atlanta Voice: Why did you decide to start this company?
Tiffany Whitlow: I decided to start this company because of my own lived experiences and realizing that we as minorities are not always treated equally when it comes to healthcare. You may know my story, and how my son has asthma. So, just being a mother and wanting quality healthcare not just for my child, but for other generations to come. I thought it was only fair that we embark upon this journey to get answers so we can move forward in healthcare equity for all people.
AV: Was there a specific moment that inspired you to start this company?
TW: Yes. Getting pregnant at 19, and having my son at the age of 20, was pivotal in my asking more questions about healthcare. Then, I later found out that I was adopted and therefore really didn’t have any medical answers for myself. It was at that particular moment that I thought, I have to advocate for my son and myself. I started to search for answers as to how to better ensure my son’s health was a priority. Not knowing a lot of my own genetic history nor what I’ve been predisposed to made me very uneasy. Then, later I encountered other people with similar stories and life experiences. My co-founder has a similar health story as it relates to his mother and healthcare inequities. We decided that together we can cast a net to capture other healthcare stories and get a better understanding of why people of color are not considered when it comes to clinical trial studies.
AV: Is there a mentor in your life that inspired/inspires you as a founder and owner?
TW: I’ve had several mentors along the way. Several great people did different things, but if I think back to a mentor it would have to be a young lady that I met when I was working at United Way. She really instilled in me what it meant to be an advocate for others. She inspired me to understand that we’re not an island unto ourselves, and that we are only as good as those who are attached to us. So, it was advice and experiences that she shared with me that really motivated me. I’ve held several jobs where I was a community advocate, and along that path I’ve also met other people that empowered me to be the best version of myself. I give a lot of credence to my family. My family members were my mentors and mentees in many instances. I heard their stories and I tried to help with solutions. Through that process, I was able to not only have been mentored but now continue to mentor.
AV: What are your professional goals for the remainder of the year?
TW: Although it is only the beginning of the year, I already have a set goal to continue to amplify the voices of individuals who have stories. You know, we as a culture have always shared our health stories, through complaining and needing a solution or as a testament to how the system failed us. Through those learning experiences and those lenses, we can continue to transition healthcare, because all people can be created equally. Also, this year I have a personal goal to be able to learn more about my own genetics. I am expecting a baby boy in March of this year, and I want my son to be able to have a healthcare portfolio that allows him to understand exactly what genetic traits he has and to ensure that he gets the best healthcare for his own needs. Additionally, I want my aging grandparents to be able to also understand how they can continue to live long and strong. So, my goal for 2023 is to really tap into those around me to amplify their stories to create a genetic trail that would continue to inspire not just my family, but many families in various communities.
AV: Any advice to future company founders/owners about taking the plunge?
TW: Take it, take the plunge! You won’t know until you actually start. You know, I read a book by Steve Harvey called, Jump. It’s not until we take that jump that we know what lies ahead for us. So, I would say to anyone who is thinking about starting their own company: get a business plan, get a vision, and take that chance. Also, I would say to them that with startups, there is no wrong answer. Every day is a new opportunity. So, embark upon that dream, set that vision, and you can become that next community with that viable solution. Remember to always dream big and expect big because it’s hard work, but anything worth having is going to take hard work. I encourage people to read books and listen to podcasts because those are major resources that are given to us to learn. Good luck and enjoy the journey on your next business adventure.