The COVID-19 pandemic has indelibly changed the future of work. As more companies expand hiring both remotely and internationally, HR teams are thinking deeply about how to standardize their benefits experience across their organizations, especially among vulnerable populations like working parents. Many are turning to telehealth to help deliver consistent care across their offices.
We sat down with our newest cohort of international Care Advocates, serving populations in the UK, Europe, India, and Japan, to hear their perspectives on maternity care around the world, and how telehealth is helping to transform it.
Care and support may vary, but the journey is the same
Building and raising a family is a fundamentally human experience: although coverage, support, and care may differ around the world, building a family is a physically and emotionally demanding journey that requires compassionate and continuous support throughout. While the maternal health crisis in America is caused by deep structural inequities in race and socioeconomic class, families in other parts of the world face different cultural and societal forces that influence their outcomes.
In Japan, decades of low birth rates have led to an aging population, prompting many to start their family-building journey through assisted reproductive technologies. In 2019, one in 14 babies were born through IVF in Japan,as reported by Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology.. However, given the resources required, fertility treatments are difficult if not impossible to access for the less privileged. And although Japan’s National insurance coverage offers public support for paid leave, child support subsidies, and fertility treatment subsidies, “utilization tends to be very low,” according to Kaori Isaacson, a Maven Care Advocate for the region. “In Japan, the low birth rate is caused in part by low support for working women, which results in later marriage and older moms.”
India is experiencing a similar reduction in population growth and fertility rates from the explosive growth experienced in the early 20th century. The Indian government has invested heavily in reducing maternal and child mortality rates, achieving “groundbreaking success” with a 77% reduction over the last two decades. State subsidies, public coverage, and investment in quality maternal health services has paid dividends for many Indian mothers. However, challenges persist: “We’re often guided by our religion and our culture first — home remedies are the first step people take in India, and that couldn’t be truer for women trying to conceive, get pregnant, or going through pregnancy,” says Magdalene David, a Maven Care Advocate based in India. “New parents often receive advice and care from their families and neighbors first, and they have to follow it because it’s their culture. It's important that women have easy access to medical practitioners, alongside the wisdom of families & friends.”
In Ireland, despite having a public health system, wait times are long, staff shortages persist, and many Irish families opt to go through private insurance instead. Because public eligibility is determined by an “unusually complex” system based on income, age, and health status, many opt for private insurance instead, resulting in “gaps in coverage and inequalities in access to essential health services, including perinatal care,” says Sarah Lyndon, a Maven Care Advocate for Ireland, the UK, and Northern Europe. Restricted access to timely care, whether by finances or waitlists, leads to negative outcomes across the board. “Ireland has one of the highest rates of mental health illness in Europe with 18.5% of the Irish population recorded as having a mental health illness such as anxiety or depression and 10-15% of women experiencing perinatal depression,” says Sarah.
Despite differences in health systems, accessible care, and cultural expectations, ultimately each Care Advocate agreed that families around the world are asking for the same things: timely access to quality care, from providers who understand their unique needs.
Trust and effectiveness can overcome telehealth resistance
As organizations around the world build hybrid, distributed, and international workforces, HR leaders are looking for ways to deliver equitable benefits and care for all employee populations. Virtual care is growing increasingly popular, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic persists, but questions remain about its effectiveness, especially in different parts of the world.
In Japan, for example, the growth and uptake of telehealth is slow-going. As Kaori describes it, “Japanese people are very cautious and want to make sure it’s real and safe to use. In general, they’re slower to warm up to new ideas or services.” However, recent surveys show that of Japanese people who have used telehealth services, 86% say they’d like to continue.
Despite the resistance, each care advocate believes that virtual care is uniquely positioned to improve maternity and family care. As Sarah describes it, "Virtual care with Maven is unique in that it allows access to timely care, as and when a person needs it. Speaking with an OB/GYN or Lactation Consultant on demand just doesn't exist here unless a person makes a trip to the A&E department. How else could you get your questions answered early in the morning or late at night?”
But not all virtual care platforms are created equal. “Many other telehealth apps lack any real continuity of care,” says Maggie. “You can find a provider, but it’ll be difficult to rebook. There’s no one to help guide you through the platform or coordinate your care.” Care navigation and coordination is increasingly being seen as a mission critical function of virtual care.
The benefits of Maven — felt around the world
“Two months in and I feel I am working with some of the smartest, most hard working and dedicated people who are breaking down walls for this change.”
To provide meaningful support that drives positive outcomes for women and their families regardless of where they live, virtual health needs two things: accessibility and empathy. Maven can provide instant access to quality care for anyone, anywhere, with practitioners and Care Advocates trained in providing culturally humble care for every family’s unique situation.
But it’s not just the user experience that sets Maven’s network apart: every Maven Care Advocate and provider, including our latest cohort, has their own unique reason for joining Maven. Care Advocates are more than just digital front doors: they’re trusted resources, confidants, and friends to their patients.
Sarah, a fertility educator, was excited to have a way to meet with more people one-on-one and provide timely access to care, while Maggie was looking for a remote job that allowed her to do meaningful work from home while raising her family. Kaori struggled to return to work after her baby was born, and Maven presented the perfect opportunity to support people who experienced similar challenges.
No matter why they chose to work for Maven, each member of the cohort agreed that they were inspired by Maven’s mission, people, and product: “two months in and I feel I am working with some of the smartest, most hard working and dedicated people who are breaking down walls for this change,” said Sarah.
Through our network of providers, Care Advocates, and partner clinics, Maven is actively expanding its international capabilities and reach. To find out how you can help change the health of the world, one woman and one family at a time, check out our careers page. To find out more about Maven’s international care capabilities, request a demo today.
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