Written by Miguel Acevedo
Black communities historically have shown to have higher risks of Heart Disease and yield some of the lowest life expectancies on average than other communities. The driving force is lack of trust or lack of access to Healthcare, a note taken seriously by Live Chair Health’s CEO, Andrew Suggs.
Live Chair originally started as a scheduling and booking app to link Barbers and clients in 2016, but in the coming years evolved into a service that paired the community of the Barbershop with Healthcare professionals to create an accessible route to better healthcare.
Live Longer, a simple mantle carried forth by an unorthodox approach to closing the life expectancy gap.
When did it click with you that you could use Live Chair to extend Healthcare
One of the things that we realized, about a year and a half into my venture into the scheduling and booking company, was that my father’s health began to decline. My co-founder and I started to research health disparities, and what we identified was very glaring, that there was an issue specifically for African American men when it came to chronic diseases. And so as my father was suffering from congestive heart failure and other chronic diseases, we asked ourselves “why does this persist?” A couple of things came to mind, based on our research. One, distrust of the medical system, and that’s for historical reasons like the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment and a host of other things. You also have regularity in seeing a primary care provider, and if you don’t have an active relationship with your primary care provider: One you don’t understand or you don’t know where your health stands, you don’t have a baseline. And two you’re more than likely not gonna know medically and clinically, what are the best approaches to maintain your health. We realized, we’re seeing men twice a month in the barbershop, right? Clients have a lot of trust with their barbers, and so a lightbulb just clicked: Why not be a bridge-builder for healthcare services and bring that to the barbershop? We pivoted the company from Live Chair to Live Chair Health, which brings healthcare services, recommendations, coaching, and guidance to barbershops. Now we’re in hair salons as well.
Awesome, you’re in hair salons now. Did you have plans to extend the idea to Churches or other community Pillars?
We have considered engaging with Churches, that’s definitely on our world map. I think other ethnic groups as well, the Dominican community has a strong tie to barbershops as well. We onboarded a Dominican shop here in Maryland last week. There’s going to be other groups that we’re addressing, but we wanted to start where the problem is most pronounced. That’s where the need is greatest.
Will it be for mental health services as well?
Yeah, absolutely. We plan to have mental health services, that’s something we’re definitely going to address, either through a partnership or creating our own content. We have what’s called a Brain Trust. Brain Trust consists of physicians, both male and female, across the United States that develop custom content for Live Chair Health. One of the conditions, if you will, that we’re going to be focusing on is mental health.
What you’re doing is incredible.
I appreciate that, man. I really do. It’s a lot of hard work, it doesn’t come easy. At the end of the day, persevere in this fight.
Do you think you, as a person or as a success story, will further incentivise people to be better and take better care of themselves?
To be honest with you, I’m so focused on the business and I’m focused on the business. I will say that if we hit on our mission, then personally all the fulfillment that will come with that will be achieved. So I don’t really look at myself as a role or anything like that. I look at myself like “Hey, you need to execute this business because lives are on the line.”
I know you’re a busy man, are there any personal notes you like to leave?
Yeah. Keep tabs on us at Live Chair Inc on all social media platforms, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Get engaged, we’re going to be releasing our mobile application really soon so that people can get content around mental health, mindfulness, controlling diabetes, or improving blood pressure, et cetera, et cetera. Stay on the lookout, the best is yet to come.