Compare with Other rich countries, the United States lags behind in maternal health outcomes. Maternal mortality rates have generally been bad since 1987, reaching 23.8 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2020. The mortality rate for black women was almost three times higher than for white women.
Melissa Hanna, CEO and co-founder of Maternal Health Startup Mahmi, sat down MobiHealthNews Their platform aims to discuss how to improve pregnancy and postpartum care, the company’s recent $ 9.2 million Series A growth, and the growing digital maternal health landscape. This interview was edited for clarity and length.
MobiHealthNews: Can you tell me a little bit about how Mahmi works from a patient’s perspective?
Melissa Hannah: New and expectant parents can join the free mahmi. And for those who are joining, the key aspect of that experience includes integrated health records for mother and baby. Thus, they are able to link together information from the mother’s medical history and history of pregnancy to delivery experience, and the story of the child’s birth and health record up to the first year of life. So, we really focus on pregnancy through the first year of a baby’s life and document all aspects of care and health that occur during that time.
Another part of this is access to the national mahmi network of providers who are using our software across the country. [They] Primarily community-based birth and child care professionals. So they are midwives, doula, lactation consultants, home visiting nurses or home health providers, nutritionists, therapists, social workers. They are all kinds of community-based professionals with whom patients can interface at any time during their maternity experience but are often not considered key members of the patient care team as OB-GYN and pediatricians.
And Mahmee is trying to change that. We’re trying to make it easier for parents to integrate that community care professional into their regular care course because we know it’s really the community-based professional who has the greatest opportunity to provide high-touch preventive care.
The final part is the ability to track important issues and mental health and other key aspects of pregnancy and the postpartum journey that can be early signs of complications and risks. So, really being able to put all of this in one place – managing your care team, managing your health, owning your own health record for you and your baby – are three parts of this puzzle.
MHN: So, there are obviously problems with traditional maternal healthcare in the United States. What do you think are the biggest issues that you hope Mahmi will help fix?
Hannah: The first is very high division. This is a very fragmented market, where different types of professionals often work in different clinical and outpatient patient settings that provide a variety of services to new and expectant parents. And in many cases, they don’t have the ability to work together and share digital tools and data to collaborate on that care. Thus, different parts of a puzzle are spread out, and the patient becomes responsible for putting everything together and carrying the burden of re-sharing their story with each new person joining their care team.
That isolation will not go away. This is a very private market. There are a lot of people who work “out of network” and I don’t see any real change anytime soon. And, to address that high divide, we’ve created technologies that bring people together in a way that allows them to communicate and collaborate so that they feel like they’re working together, even if they’re all working in different organizations in different environments.
The second thing is systemic racism and bias in healthcare. This is something that has existed since the founding of this country and the formation of the obstetrics and gynecology industry. And we have to admit that we did not pay attention to the needs of black and brown women, especially black and indigenous women. Broadly speaking, we haven’t heard from mothers for a long time, which is why our maternal mortality statistics are where they are, because we are waiting for something to happen instead of actively preventing them from happening through more clinical and psychosocial support.
The systematic racism and bias we face in maternal and child health care is first and foremost to build a national network of culturally competent providers and professional birth professionals who understand how patients should be treated where they are and acknowledge where they are. Live experience. Material for the entire journey of pregnancy and postpartum.
We have to accept that living experience. We may not always look like a patient with someone like them or with someone from their community, but we can match patients with patients who acknowledge systemic racism and prejudice that may be experienced throughout that patient’s life and their healthcare experience. – and start addressing and unpacking it.
MHN: You recently completed your Series A. How do you plan to use that investment?
Hannah: We are fully expanding our team to be able to serve more patients and providers through our platform. So, the number one thing is to grow that team in every way. We are posting jobs every few days.
It’s really important that we at Mahmee continue to improve the digital experience for patients and providers. This includes releasing a native mobile product and improving accessibility and user experience across the board. Thus products and engineering are a big field for recruitment in the company. We’ve already brought in some new people, and we’ll continue to grow there. And then, of course, we also have in-house nurses and care coordinators.
MHN: Digital health funding has slowed so far this year, but there seem to be a number of startups interested in improving maternal and reproductive healthcare and that experience. Do you think investors are more interested in maternal health right now? And if so, why do you think this inflection point is happening right now?
Hannah: This is a great question. I think we are coming to a turning point. I don’t really think we’re still there.
Based on our fundraising experience in 2021 and 2022, it is clear to me that most investors are still reluctant to evaluate and evaluate the impact of maternal and child health-focused solutions. In the investment landscape there is still often a pull towards consumer-oriented solutions that bypass the healthcare industry itself.
MHN: Like an app where someone will track [their pregnancy] Every day for themselves, as opposed to working with a provider.
Hannah: Yes, of course. There are many more traditional consumer approach pop-ups in maternal and child healthcare that claim to be able to address some of the fundamental challenges facing the sector. But where I see a confusion in the market is that the fundamental challenges that this sector is facing are systematic. You can’t fix the healthcare industry without working with the healthcare industry.
This is not to say that direct-consumer solutions are ineffective. In fact, at times, they may be just what they need in order for the patient to complement their healthcare journey. The challenge, however, is that this particular vertical is currently plagued by extremely costly systemic problems, including but not limited to systemic racism, waste and reactive drugs, fragmentation, regional disparities in care, lack of critical service providers in the maternal desert that are necessary for safety. And healthy childbirth. So there is no amount of child tracking or maternity tracking that is going to solve some of these challenges.
I don’t want to be too self-righteous about this; It is extremely difficult to work in this industry. It does not move easily or quickly in any direction. Much of this has to do with the fact that women’s health and women’s lives and rights have been granted and ignored, or in some cases completely ignored.
In the last 12 months, we’ve generally seen more speed, more movement in space. I mentioned that I don’t think we’re still at the inflection point. I think there is still more excitement and positive growth in this market. It doesn’t help if we are the only ones in the market. I think there are some exciting movements happening here as a whole, and I don’t think we’re still at the peak of what people really understand is possible.