The U.S. has a major maternal mortality problem.
Tuesday, a Los Angeles-based digital health startup, Mahmee—which offers online "maternity coaches"—just scored a who's who list of investors with both tennis star Serena Williams and billionaire Mark Cuban signing on to back their idea for addressing the problem.
The company, which launched in 2014, just closed a $3 million funding round. The funding round was led by Arlan Hamilton’s ArlanWasHere Investments, Hamilton’s $1 million joint venture investment fund with Cuban, and was augmented by support from Williams' early-stage venture firm Serena Ventures and Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund.
They were joined by previous investors Cross Culture Ventures, Acumen America, The Helm, Backstage Capital, Bumble Fund and Pipeline Angels.
Mahmee is focused on addressing the rise in maternal mortality and injuries through care management and the use of "maternity coaches."
The maternal health industry is lacking the IT infrastructure needed to connect healthcare professionals from different organizations to each other and to follow and monitor patients across practices and health systems, according to Melissa Hanna, CEO and co-founder of Mahmee. “This missing element creates gaps in care. Mahmee is the glue that connects the care ecosystem and closes the gaps," Hanna said.
"In the maternity healthcare process, on the surface there are generally three or four people involved: the mother, the baby, and each of their physicians. What we don’t see are the many other people helping them: nurses, lactation consultants, midwives, nutritionists, therapists, doulas, home health aides, and social workers," Hanna said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of reported pregnancy-related deaths in the U.S. has steadily increased from 7.2 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 17.2 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015. And about 3 in 5 pregnancy-related deaths could be prevented, according to the CDC.
The risk of pregnancy-related deaths for black women is three to four times higher than that of white women, the CDC also reports.
“I am incredibly excited to invest and partner with Mahmee, a company that personifies my firm’s investment philosophy,” Williams, founder and CEO of Serena Ventures, said in a statement. “Given the bleak data surrounding maternal death and injury rates, I believe that it is absolutely critical right now to invest in solutions that help protect the lives of moms and babies. Mahmee’s data-driven approach is the right solution to one of the most significant problems in the system: that of fragmented care.”
Mahmee is focused on improving maternal and infant health by building the missing digital infrastructure to connect the maternal health industry and prevent critical gaps in care, according to the company.
Hanna co-founded the digital health company with Sunny Walia, Mahmee's chief technology officer, and her mother Linda Hanna, who serves as chief nursing officer. Linda Hanna is a registered nurse in obstetrics, an international board-certified lactation consultant and also pioneered the maternity and lactation programs at Kaiser Permanente and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, according to the company.
The company links the health records of pregnant women and new mothers with their babies' health records to enable physicians and other outpatient practitioners, such as doulas and lactation consultants, to share care plans. Mahmee also provides an online dashboard available to new and expecting parents and their medical providers so data are no longer fragmented across providers.
Mahmee's platform also monitors patients through maternity coaches, flags potential risks and escalates concerns to doctors so that a patient's care plan stays up to date, the company said.
The new funding round will be used to grow Mahmee’s team of engineers, clinicians and sales staff, the company said.
The company has over 1,000 providers and organizations in its network including Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, AltaMed and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The company works with both private and Medicaid-focused health plans.
Mahmee's platform has identified and escalated more than 1,000 critical care issues including sepsis, postpartum psychosis and postnatal hemorrhaging, company executives said.
"My investment reflects my confidence in the strength of this team, and the value of their mission: to fill a major gap in the existing health care system that very few others are tackling,” Cuban said in a statement. “This tech solution is helping usher in the future of maternity health care.”