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Health technology solutions offered to combat black maternal mortality




Health technology solutions offered to combat black maternal mortality

WWhen black people receive maternal care, they are often not treated the same as white people. In 2016, when Simmone Taitt suffered her first pregnancy loss, she was highly insured, had a high-paying job as a technical director, and had access to one of the best gynecologists in New York City. But when she found out her baby had no heartbeat, she left that appointment with no medical follow-up and no emotional or mental health care.

“And I did what 85% of all Americans do. I went to Dr. Google and there I found things, very simple things that were not being offered to me,” Taitt, the founder and CEO of Poppy Seed Health, said Thursday at the STAT Breakthrough Summit West in San Francisco. Taitt eventually quit her job, became a doula and started Poppy Seed Health to provide on-demand emotional and mental health support to birthing people.

“You see three Black women here today, and I can tell you that it is our lived experiences that sent us into the realm to start and build a solution to solve something very personal for us, but also for the generations before us,” Taitt said, of the work she and two other healthcare entrepreneurs have done are leading the way in addressing the national crisis in Black maternal health. Black women die during pregnancy and childbirth at nearly three to four times the rate of white women. Furthermore, mental health problems also contribute to maternal mortality, with 20% of these deaths due to suicide. “So when people ask me, I build it selfishly for myself, but also for everyone who suffers in silence.”

Melissa Hanna, co-founder and CEO of Mahmee, a platform to support comprehensive prenatal and postpartum care, emphasized the need to address systemic racism and bias in healthcare.

Kimberly Seals Allen speaks during a panel on Black maternal mortality at the STAT Breakthrough Summit West 2024.

Hanna identified gaps in comprehensive care, which is provided from conception through a baby’s first birthday, through her work in technology and healthcare, and can address them by focusing on patient support and care through doulas, nutrition coaches and registered nurses. in obstetrics.

Kimberly Seals Allers founded Irth for Black birthers to address the lack of information about gynecological midwives, hospitals and pediatricians who meet their needs. Specifically, the app collects people’s reviews of providers and hospitals to generate experience data.

Allers created the app after feeling disrespected and traumatized during the birth of her first child, despite going to one of the best hospitals in her area. At the time, she was an unmarried graduate student at Columbia, and she said she was treated like an unmarried black woman with basic health insurance. “And so what I really should have seen were reviews from people like me,” Allers told STAT’s national science correspondent Usha Lee McFarling. Irth is positioned as a Yelp for healthcare providers and facilities.

“It’s our digital Green Book for a safe black birth. We know that my parents and grandparents literally needed tools to travel safely. And so we have now created our digital Green Book for Birth, and we are excited about its promise,” said Allers.

But despite their successes, these women faced challenges as Black women entrepreneurs in healthcare technology. Taitt noted that in 2020, she became the 88th Black woman in the US to raise more than $1 million for her company. “That’s terrible,” she said. Hanna recently received $9 million in funding from big names like Serena Williams, Mark Cuban and Goldman Sachs, but emphasized that maternal health resources don’t have to be backed by venture capitalists alone.

Allers added that one of the biggest barriers to adopting these products has to do with the way Black mothers feel unappreciated. “There’s this horrible story about black maternal health, that you’re lucky to be alive and your baby is alive. And so when they have these traumatic experiences, but they still live, they say, ‘I just want to move on,'” she said. “We are very proud to be able to get the message across to our community that in Irth your story matters, but that is something they haven’t heard yet.”