Meet Kay Nikiforova, M.A., Head of Clinical & Research at Violet

“Violet is building the first-ever infrastructure for inclusive health care, through benchmarking, upskilling, and recognizing cultural competence in health care providers. At Violet, we believe that culturally competent health care is a human right, and we’re closing that gap by standardizing what #culturalcompetence means and providing pathways for care delivery teams to be more inclusive.

My work in healthtech has centered access to care on a systems level, focusing on health inequality for medical and mental health. At Violet, as Head of Clinical and Research, I focus on clinical strategy, translational research and creating innovative avenues to address health disparities. I created Violet’s cultural competence framework and designed a standardized, integrated benchmarking system. The framework is built upon existing academic and clinical literature, is informed by clinician and patient interviews and incorporates different elements such as lived experience, work experience, education and training, cultural humility and communities of interest. 

It was important to acknowledge that cultural competence is a dynamic process of growth that not only requires learning and experience, but also introspection, curiosity, and a willingness to learn about one’s own relationship to culture, to privilege, and the world at large. The framework aims to highlight clinicians who excel in treating and passionately work with specific communities and can help other clinicians start to grow in providing inclusive care. Violet provides comprehensive education created by our education partners to help clinicians continue to learn and grow, and helps partnering organizations make better matches with clinicians for patients seeking care using our benchmarks.

The work is very personal to me as well, because to this day, as a queer, genderqueer person with chronic health issues, despite having some of the highest access to healthcare in the US, as well as extensive knowledge of the health care system itself, I still use a local #LGBTQ+ facebook group to find provider recommendations for myself. Add in language barriers, racism and discrimination, lack of insurance or a myriad of other access to care issues that patients may face, and finding any care at all — let alone safe and appropriate care — can seem daunting. Our #healthcare system needs to do better and this is my way to start, so that one day our best care routing system can be a validated system that we can all trust.”

Our Breaking Barriers series is amplifying trailblazers in #behavioralhealth who have worked to expand access to mental health and substance use services through #innovation, #advocacy and/or new #technology.