For the March installment of the Healthtech Leader of the Month, we spoke to Dan Miller, Founder and CEO of Spora Health.
Dan strives to create an equitable healthcare system through Spora Health, an online primary care platform for people of color that recognizes the significance of culture-centered care.
The Importance of Culture-Centered Care
Like many young people of color, Dan realized the shortcomings of the traditional American healthcare system early on. In middle school, Dan became a caretaker for his great-grandmother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s and late-onset dementia. She moved from rural North Carolina to live with Dan and his parents in New Jersey, making it difficult for her to connect with providers or caretakers. “It was difficult to be in that position as a kid. At the time, I just thought that that was what needed to be done. However, looking back, that was the first time I got exposed to the fact that American families are solving issues that the healthcare system doesn’t have a solution for,” Dan adds.
Dan has been a technologist his entire career, with time spent at Salesforce and SurveyMonkey, but he later transitioned to being a full-time entrepreneur. In 2019, Dan founded Spora Health, a virtual primary care practice focusing on communities of color for just $9.99 a month. “Providers in the US are not required to complete any sort of evidence-based health equity or cultural competence training, leading to biases when interacting with a patient,” Dan says. Dan recognized that this healthcare model often leads to worse outcomes for people of color. Thus, all Spora Health providers complete evidence-based health equity and competence training, and 70% are people of color.
Spora Health focuses on delivering culture-centered care that is informed by cultural norms and practices. “It is at the center of everything we do,” says Dan. Dan affirms the importance of this care model: “In my opinion, health inequities, frankly, are products of design. We are committed to redesigning the system by focusing on the cultures of the populations we serve, in turn helping us increase the quality of life for these folks”. Spora Health also has a platform called Spora Rec, an online community which is a safe space to discuss the various health issues most pertinent to people of color. “We build out groups based on similar journeys that folks are going through. People love having the opportunity to connect with one another”, explains Dan.
Leader to Leader: 3 Lessons Learned
During grade school, Dan realized early on that he could get by with his natural wit alone, leading to a sense of complacency. However, this changed drastically upon starting his career. One of the biggest lessons Dan has learned over his career is to simply “show up.” “I think about showing up and being present, every single day. Now, if I’m going to show up and do something, I’m going to sit at the front of the class as well,” says Dan, “I try to focus on a better version of myself every day.”
2. Get comfortable with the uncomfortable
“Being uncomfortable is what helps me keep my eye on the ball and understand what the task is,” Dan comments. Actively pursuing tasks that keep Dan on the edge of his seat allows him to have a “high-level awareness of the environment and competition, but also my individual space. Technology moves so fast, and doing things that make me uncomfortable helps me see that we still have a lot to prove.”
3. Foster a network
Dan also urges people to build a network as early as they can, specifically of people “either a few steps ahead of you or behind you.” Dan is thankful that he has been able to build strong relationships in the industry, and given the impact they have had on him, he is beginning to serve as a mentor for young professionals.
Moving Forward: Spora Institute
Looking ahead, Spora is working on making their evidence-based training accessible to other providers. “We want the Spora Institute not just to be a tool, but also just as an example of what needs to be done and what can be done to change,” says Dan. Thus far, the Spora Institute’s impact has been realized with 72% of providers demonstrating an increased understanding across six implicit bias domains after completing the training. Additionally, providers can receive CME credits through the Spora Institute. Down the line, Dan is focused on codifying the training programs and using the data garnered for future iterations of the training: “We have a flywheel that is consistently getting better over time.”
From an early age, Dan felt the drawbacks of the American healthcare system. Now, through Spora Health, he is committed to empowering and providing people of color with the tools they need to take control of their health and well-being.
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