A biomedical engineer by training, I have worked in the health tech industry for the last 17 years on products that span the spectrum from medical devices, to pharmaceuticals, to digital health. I strive to build patient-centric products that empower the patient in their own care journey and foster a proactive, synergistic relationship with their care providers. Co-founding Delfina was a full circle moment: now, I have the opportunity to build the platform I wish I could have used during my own pregnancy.
My philosophy for healthcare products is threefold: to deeply understand the problem we are solving, design solutions that keep the end user front and center, and create systems that embed within and adapt to their existing workflows. In healthcare, aligning incentives for the patient-provider-payer triad is notoriously hard and has resulted in a needlessly complex, costly care system.
The root problem is the US maternal health crisis, which stems from inadequate and inequitable access. Nearly 46% of all pregnant patients experience significant complications, including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and peripartum mood disorders (Danilack et al. 2015). The cost of these complications averages over $13,000 per pregnancy. New studies from 2022 show that the rate of maternal mortality in the U.S. has risen to 23.8 deaths per 100,000 births, and to 55.3 deaths for Black patients. Decreasing reimbursements force providers to see more patients, reducing appointment durations and impacting the quality of care.
When we started designing Delfina Care, our goal was to build a solution that meets the needs of all three stakeholders: drive down costs for payers, maximize operational efficiencies for the provider, and most importantly to deliver better outcomes for all families. After countless conversations with pregnant patients and their providers, we realized there was a need for a closed-loop, continuous, and customizable digital system for pregnancy care.
There are dozens of pregnancy apps that provide useful educational content, but often this information is generic and open-ended, leaving pregnant mothers to google their symptoms late into the night. While several telehealth solutions provide ease of access, they introduce a new care provider, causing frustrations for the primary OB and a source of confusion for patients.
We discovered significant care gaps between prenatal visits and immediately after delivery. In order to provide continuous support and care access, we implemented connected remote patient monitoring programs that offer clinicians valuable insights and create a digital conduit for patients to escalate their concerning symptoms. We introduced mental health therapists, registered dietitians, and lactation consultants to support the expecting mother throughout her journey. Patients using Delfina Care who did not use the platform during prior pregnancies specifically share their appreciation for the continuity of support by their integrated care team.
At Delfina, we appreciate that each pregnancy journey is unique. We customize the pregnancy experience by providing culturally congruent support, custom educational content, and adaptive digital interfaces. Our pregnancy app personalizes the experience based on language preference, gestational age, and prior clinical history, thereby increasing patient engagement and improving their adherence to their care plans. We also designed Delfina Care to be flexible so that it will adapt seamlessly to every practice’s workflow—whether a large health system or a small community clinic.
With our closed-loop, continuous and customizable platform we address the problem of inadequate access. In order to solve the problem of inequitable access, we turn to the power of data. Last year, we won the NICHD Decoding Maternal Morbidity Challenge and were grateful to be recognized for addressing racial disparities in health data science. We validated and expanded our work on equitable data analysis in pregnancy with our partners at Mayo Clinic Platform.
Our product team will continue to learn, build, and iterate to solve the maternal health crisis. We envision that our product will provide a safe, healthy, and supported journey for every pregnancy.