Maven Clinic, the rapidly expanding virtual provider for women’s and family health, has created two new roles to streamline innovation around its care model and clinical research.
The two new roles will be that of a visiting scientist and a digital innovation fellow, the company announced Wednesday.
Alex Peahl, M.D., assistant professor and physician-investigator at the University of Michigan’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, has joined as Maven’s visiting scientist. Among other duties, Peahl will drive strategies in care redesign, including how to integrate with evolving in-person care and health plan care management. Her background includes the recent study of the impact of COVID-19 on U.S. prenatal care delivery guidelines.
“I have found that right-sizing prenatal care is critical to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and equity of prenatal care for all patients, particularly for those facing the greatest barriers to care,” Peahl said in the announcement. She hopes to advance the company’s care model by applying her study of new patient-centric approaches to maternity care delivery.
“The idea is that Maven Clinic should be a hub for world-class scientists,” Neel Shah, M.D., Maven’s chief medical officer, told Fierce Healthcare.
Shah defines innovation two ways: breakthrough and follow-through. As digital health accelerates the ability to evolve existing care models, the challenge that remains is not a lack of knowledge, he said, but rather a lack of execution.
Maven follows through by adhering to evidence-based science and continuously finding ways to apply it to its platform, Shah explained. And though using phones is not yet the mainstream way people receive care, Shah is hopeful that in the next three years, that will change.
From a provider perspective, there are many benefits to being virtual, he said. There is wider provider availability as Maven’s is 24/7, which is key to busy families or parents, better access to translators and more opportunities for scalability in general.
“People are going through so much change in their lives in their pathway to parenthood,” Shah said. “Fifteen-minute visits just, like, aren't enough.”
Ayotomiwa Ojo, M.D. candidate at Harvard Medical School, will be the company’s first digital innovation fellow, a role that’s intended for graduate students in clinical professions. Ojo will collaborate with Peahl to advance Maven’s clinical strategy and research. Maven hopes to build out an alumni network of fellows, Shah said.
Maven is also developing programs that address specific populations based on condition-specific needs and referring patients to community-based organizations that can address social needs. Maven has a Substack, The Preprint, where it publishes articles monthly on what the company is up to.
“A really important part of science is sharing out what we’re doing,” Shah said.
Shah hopes more digital companies will turn to science-based approaches. While he admitted there is benefit in learning from all healthcare leaders with all types of backgrounds, he worries that when a company prioritizes purely a retail strategy “it’s very possible to trade on people’s anxiety without actually making them healthy.” With the current crisis of trust in health institutions, Shah said, “there’s a need to really have a clinical backbone in this space. Trustworthiness is everything.”