At this year’s HLTH conference, family and reproductive health took center stage. In the wake of a pivotal year for womens’ and family health, attendants and speakers asked themselves a poignant question: what do we do now? 

And the answer, though far from simple, was clear: improve access to care with solutions that meet people where they are. Whether at the booth, in the convention center, or on stage, our Mavens shared their insights into the future of family and reproductive health.

Maven at HLTH: building the future of family health

At this year’s conference, Kate Ryder, CEO and founder of Maven, and Dr. Neel Shah, CMO of Maven, joined experts for two panels, sharing their points of view about digital health innovation and the maternal mortality crisis. 

Employers play a key role in solving the women’s and family health crisis

Dr. Shah sat down with Holly Maloney, Managing Director at General Catalyst, for a fireside chat about the women’s and family health crisis. The U.S. has the highest cost of starting a family in the world and the worst maternal health outcomes among peer nations—with a difficult to navigate healthcare system to boot. “We’re at an inflection point in human history where human wellbeing is actually eroding,” said Dr. Shah. “A person is now more likely to die in childbirth than their mother.”

These long-standing structural issues have created massive gaps in care for women and families. But, as Dr. Shah notes, “a lot of the effort to progress the maternal health system has actually been driven by employers.” In fact, Dr. Shah joined Maven to achieve just that: building solutions with innovative employers that can really make a difference. And with the uncertainty surrounding the future of reproductive health, the opportunity has never been greater.

Dr. Shah found that “a lot of employers actually came to us for help and guidance, and not just around having a stance on the issue but to have solutions in place for their employees.” This experience further confirmed his belief in the staying power of women’s and family health, even in spite of economic uncertainty. “There’s been significant investment in this space, which means there’s significant innovation,” said Dr. Shah. To him, that empowers Maven to take on challenges in fertility, menopause, mental health, and more. “At the end of the day, we care about healthy families.”

Kate Ryder’s perspective on the digital health industry and Maven’s future

On the main stage of HLTH, Kate sat down for a panel with fellow pioneering founders in digital health, Anne Wojcicki of 23andMe and Toyin Ajayi of Cityblock Health. Moderated by Deena Shakir, Partner at Lux Capital and Maven investor, the panel explored how the three founders continue to break new ground and lead with purpose.

Ryder, recalling her founding story not ten years ago, notes that, “although women are the dominant consumer in healthcare—and they control 80% of decision making in a multi trillion dollar industry—they are so massively underserved.” Between her own pregnancy journey, which began with a tragic miscarriage, and the stories she heard from her friends, it was clear to Ryder that there were significant gaps in the healthcare system for birthing people. Shifting gears to her experience with venture capital, Ryder looked back on the “crazy early days” of securing funding for Maven. After cobbling together startup funds from individuals, she could only describe Maven’s seed round as a “bloodbath.” 

“We’d meet with a partner who would have kids, a wife, or be married to a doctor and they’d totally understand our product. But then we would go into a boardroom and there would be no women present—and we’d be told no.” But Ryder persevered, and by the time Maven reached Series B, it became evident that as an industry, women’s and family health was here to stay. Now with a Series E fundraise in the books, Ryder acknowledges how exciting the space has become. “If you look around this room, there are tons of women’s and family health startups. It’s amazing.”

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The takeaway: digital health companies need to deliver clinical value

The one theme that was consistent throughout many of the talks and presentations at HLTH 2022 was value: how can we drive clinical value for patients and members with the tools at our disposal? And moreover, how can we continue to innovate to align incentives between payers, providers, and consumers of healthcare? In the women’s and family health space, that means focusing on healthy pregnancies and healthy babies, regardless of the path to—or through—parenthood.

As Dr. Shah keenly points out in his talk, “nobody wants to do IVF, people want to bring home a healthy baby.” As much of the industry pivots towards value-based care, both Ryder and Dr. Shah remarked that digital health is keenly positioned to meet people where they are and close the many gaps in family healthcare today. As Dr. Shah says in his newsletter recap of the conference, “despite the entrenched incentives, the predatory marketing, and the turning economic tides—women’s and family health continues to grow and the case for delivering better care at lower cost is as strong as ever.” As Maven—and the digital health space at-large—continued to innovate, the focus should always remain on outcomes. 

Driving value with Maven

Whether you’re an employer looking to provide for your organization, or a health plan looking to drive outcomes for your members, there’s never been a better time—or a stronger case—to innovate. To find out how Maven can help you improve health outcomes for women, families, and babies, check out our solutions page today.

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