Among the crowd showing at TechCrunch Disrupt's Startup Alley was Embrace Her Health, a two-year-old company at work on a suite of maternity apps that aim to enable women to manage their pre- and post-natal health better and cut the risk and costs of preventable complications.
Embrace Her Health's first mobile app for iOS and Android, Pregnancy Companion, serves as both a personal pregnancy tracker and a source of information for expecting mothers. Women plug in their due date, and from there the app uses an algorithm written by the team's OB/GYNs to power a range of tools related to weight gain, hydration, kicks, and contractions. The app also gives users access to a network of MDs who answer specific questions.
Most women only see a doctor once a month during pregnancy, and these appointments are often short, said co-founder Aron Schuftan, MD. This is partly due to the introduction of Obamacare, which resulted in more patients for the same number of doctors. Enabling women to track their own pregnancies fills in those gaps and educates them about risks of which that they might not otherwise be aware.
"It's day-to-day tracking. It's a more ongoing, proactive identification of risk versus that one-time visit," CEO and co-founder Denise Terry said. "If your blood pressure doesn't spike when you're there [in the office], you'll never know that it spiked two weeks ago. We're moving to a daily and weekly self-monitoring state of health. This allows that to happen. You only see a doctor 8 to ten times during your pregnancy. Doctors miss things."
The app assumes a normal pregnancy track, but when certain flags are tripped, they interact with the algorithm to deliver personalized content modules. If a woman learns she is having twins or has gestational diabetes, for instance, the app will provide tips specific to those scenarios.
Embrace Her Health was founded two years ago by Terry, Shufton, and Chief Medical Officer Jan Rydfors, MD, who co-authored the widely used clinical handbook "Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Infertility."
Thus far the app has been used by 250,000 women and is distributed by 500 doctors.
The company has been bootstrapped so far and is now looking to raise a seed round of $1 million to expand the team and develop similar apps for post-partum health, infant pediatrics, breast feeding, and fertility. That suite will likely launch in Q4.
In the next six months, Embrace Her Health will integrate wearable fitness trackers for weight, pulse, and blood pressure into its Pregnancy Companion app, from Withings, Fitbit, and Jawbone Up.
Currently, the app serves as a way for mothers to manage their own pregnancies, so that they can bring a potential issue to their physician. The plan is to eventually integrate with doctor's offices so that based on the mother's tracking, the doctor will know as soon as the mother does that there is a problem.
As with many medical tech devices, the preventative nature of the app is meant to reduce pressure on the medical system overall. Schuftan pointed out that the cost of providing for preterm labor amounts to $60 billion annually.
In the interest of giving expecting parents even more of a handle on their pregnancy, Embrace Her Health is looking to incorporate genetic testing from 23andMe, currently a sponsor for the start-up, into their offerings.
"You can know 150 inherent genetic disorders before the baby is born, based on that spit test. It's amazing, and we think that every expectant couple should use that," Terry said. "We'll be incorporating that into your health profile."