Health tech player Philips is joining forces with Nuvo Group to increase access and adherence to prescribed maternity care in rural areas, the companies announced Tuesday.
More than half (54%) of U.S. counties have limited or no access to maternity care and about 35% of those counties are considered maternity care deserts, according to March of Dimes. That leaves more than two million women of reproductive age living in areas with no hospital offering obstetric care, no obstetric provider and no birth center.
In collaborating with Philips, Nuvo will leverage its INVU solution, an FDA-approved remote fetal monitoring platform that facilitates remote non-stress tests and maternal and fetal heart rate monitoring.
The companies will pilot the joint program in rural Colorado as part of an integrated solution for providers. Philips will provide support for the program’s delivery, according to the company.
“Digital solutions and ecosystem-building are critical enablers to addressing disparities in healthcare such as access to maternal healthcare in rural settings,” said Sandra Lesenfants, general manager of hospital patient monitoring at Philips, in a statement. “With this collaboration, we are extending the sight and reach of pregnancy care and bringing more remote monitoring options to the communities and expectant mothers where and when they need them most.”
Nuvo’s remote monitoring solution also has the potential to reduce provider burden by shifting care to the home, the company said, by allowing providers to prescribe the INVU sensor band to expectant mothers to wear during virtual visits.
The band transmits live non-stress test readings comparable to in-office fetal surveillance to the provider while allowing the mother to view her data and insights in the paired app.
“Collaborating with Philips is an important step in our efforts to bring more comprehensive pregnancy care solutions to patients, providers and payers,” said Kelly Londy, Nuvo CEO, in a statement. “Philips has long been a leader in providing high-quality care in the obstetrics space, and we feel that this deep history, coupled with INVU’s unique ability to meet moms where they are, will be game-changing for the industry.”
Maternal mortality rates in the U.S., some of the highest in the developed world, are particularly elevated among Black and Native American women.
The White House released a fact sheet in December urging the healthcare industry to work to improve health outcomes for mothers and infants.
In November, more than 200 hospitals signed on to join the Department of Health and Human Services’ new maternal and infant health initiative to address these disparities by capturing data to improve care practices.
Philips previously invested in Babyscripts, a virtual care platform that uses tech and remote monitoring to deliver prenatal and postpartum care and enhance risk detection.
The health tech company participated in the startup’s $12 million series B round in September.