HIMSS Accelerate Health Podcast

Moving Beyond Femtech: Sonia Millsom, Maven

May 12, 2021 Sonia Millsom, Chief Commercial Officer, Maven Season 2 Episode 11
HIMSS Accelerate Health Podcast
Moving Beyond Femtech: Sonia Millsom, Maven
HIMSS Accelerate Health Podcast
Moving Beyond Femtech: Sonia Millsom, Maven
May 12, 2021 Season 2 Episode 11
Sonia Millsom, Chief Commercial Officer, Maven

Indu Subaiya speaks with Maven's  Chief Commercial Officer, Sonia Millsom. Maven is the largest virtual clinic dedicated to women and family health. Indu and Sonia discus what sets Maven apart from other telehealth networks and moving beyond the classification of Femtech as verticals and towards making them core to the health of families and communities. 

Show Notes Transcript

Indu Subaiya speaks with Maven's  Chief Commercial Officer, Sonia Millsom. Maven is the largest virtual clinic dedicated to women and family health. Indu and Sonia discus what sets Maven apart from other telehealth networks and moving beyond the classification of Femtech as verticals and towards making them core to the health of families and communities. 

Sponsored Content  0:00  
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Indu Subaiya  0:26  
Hello, I'm Indu Subaiya. On this week's episode of The accelerate health podcast. I'm interviewing Sonia milson chief Commercial Officer for Maven, the largest virtual clinic dedicated to women and Family Health. We take a closer look at what sets Mavin apart from other telehealth networks, and discuss the importance of moving beyond the classification of women's health and FinTech as verticals, toward making them core to the health of families and communities. I've been a fan of Maven, and I've been hearing so much about it recently. It feels like there's a site Geist moment for the company. And I'd love you to just sort of start by setting the stage for us about the history and mission of the company. And maybe kind of putting it into practical terms for our listeners in terms of how it works in someone's everyday life. Yeah, absolutely. Indu thank

Sonia Millsom  1:21  
you so much for having me, I it's great to see you and to be part of this. Love the opportunity to speak about Maven. And you know the difference that we're trying to make, but most importantly, to really bring, you know visual to the to the to the problem, right? There's a huge challenge around women and families health. And so I think the best way to illustrate it is really an example we call what we call Maven moments, which is you know what we try to ground in our mission, which is to change the health of the world, one woman one family at a time. And I think a great way to share that is through Maria story. Maria is one of our patients she came to us it's actually her third pregnancy and she was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, which impacts about 7% of pregnancies and can result in preterm or stillbirth. So it's pretty significantly, you know, significant diagnosis in terms of you know, when people get that it can be really scary. She was her third child, so she's had to, you know, normal deliveries. So it's not so that she had never heard of what gestational diabetes was. And ob gyn said, This is what you've got, here's the referral to our nutritionist to go get information. She went to a nutritionist, nutritionists gave her some information, a list of foods, and she just went back to her day to day life. And when she went for her next ob gyn appointment, the OB Jen said your numbers have not changed. In fact, they've gotten worse and scared her. She said, she said her doctor told her your baby could die. And the impact of hearing that as a mother, mother, mother and mother to be right is terrifying. And so she remembered that she had access to Maven. So she went online that night, because you have 24 seven access to telehealth through Maven, in terms of what we deliver, she found a nutritionist who was available to speak with her. And she shared I have gestational diabetes. And immediately her nutritionist gave her a lot of information and said, we'll help you I'm gonna help you, I'm gonna listen, I'm going to understand what's going on and help you through this. And so she got a lot of information for her. She said, I will check with you daily, so to daily check ins with her, asked her what did she eat for breakfast. And when Maria said I ate, you know, certain things nutritionist said, Great, well, let's think about cutting that. And let's think about adding things like avocados and nuts and those types of things. And really changing the way that you think about food and what you need to be healthy for yourself and for your baby. She went through all of that ultimately was able to get her numbers down. Throughout all of this, she was also experiencing a tremendous amount of anxiety. So you've been told that you, you know, your baby could die, and that you need to change the way that you are operating. And so she had access to mental health providers through Maven as well, and had a variety of content that was curated for her as well as a community of individuals to help her through all those components. And really, throughout all of it. You know, she was again getting a variety of resources on demand when it was available for her what was best needed for her. And at the end of the day, she ultimately had a safe delivery and a healthy baby. But she was incredibly emotional when she shared she said, you know, mavens practitioners really saved me. You know, again, when you think about that, it's like really what we are thinking about, right? So all those resources are incredibly fragmented throughout the system. There's no easy way to access them. And it's an incredible emotional as well as clinical and financial journey, and there's no one that's the same. And so that's really what we're trying to do is change the way and thinking about the delivery system, really thinking about that beginning of life as a way to impact if you think about them, again, even gestational diabetes, the impact on nutrition and all those components that have impact for her from a long term perspective on the way that she may eat as well as the way that she may feed her children, you know can really make an impact for generations. on the line, it

Indu Subaiya  5:00  
makes so much sense. And some of the work that you and I have both been involved in over the last number of years has been around kind of the digitization of medicine and healthcare. And we think of telehealth as sort of like we're gonna solve things with telehealth. But what I really heard in your description was this idea that it's not just 24, seven access to providers, it's this idea of the content coming in, in a feedback loop in a kind of back and forth interactive way, not just here's the information. And I also hear this concept of kind of community and kind of the holistic care with multiple multidisciplinary professionals. So I think it's, you know, not just the fact that it's telehealth, it's, it's wrapped in these other pillars as well. So that's really, that makes a ton of sense. You know, Maven was founded in 2014. And at the time, what, what would you say, you know, would have been like the perspective, in this field of women's health, you know, on the one hand, we argue it's not getting enough attention as a vertical. And on the other hand, it's like, we don't want to marginalize it as this thing over here, and really would love for you to share how Maven thinks of the space today.

Sonia Millsom  6:18  
It's a great question. It's a lot has changed in since 2014. And, you know, Kate, female founder, you know, started the company, because of her own journey and experience and seeing that fragmentation, wanted to think about it differently, and went to a variety of investors, and many of them, gave her nose, said to her, you know, purely male investors, not not all of them, but some of them said, you know, we don't really understand the need for this product. It's a niche market. And maybe I'll ask my wife around this, right? So it just didn't, nobody got it. Right. And again, like the experience of MRI, or any either of us, you know, as you're going through life, it's like, how can somebody not understand that, but it's really not a vertical, if you think about it, it's really the core of the healthcare system, right? It's that time in life, when people are making the opportunity to have a difference, like I said, from your own health, as well as a variety of, you know, down the road. And so we're really starting to beginning to see that, and I think that's what's changing. And so, thumbtack and women's health have, you know, really served a purpose, it's given a lot of visibility to the space, obviously, it's brought in a lot of investment dollars. But I think now, it kind of holds us back, you know, it's time for us to really shift the dialogue. There's a Hubert Humphrey quote that I love that says, the way that we treat our children in the dawn of their lives, and the way that we treat our elderly in the twilight of their lives is a measure of the quality of the nation. And when you think about that, you know, we've started to do some shifting, you know, on the on the other end of Medicare, but we really have not shifted to that the dawn of life as that center of healthcare. And I think that's why you don't want to think about it as a vertical, you want to think about it as the beginning point, the entry point for when we really want to invest. And so, you know, that is where we're at this huge inflection point, I think, within the industry and, and really thinking about this, again, not from a condition management perspective, but really, again, a critical point to invest.

Indu Subaiya  8:15  
It really is I love this message of kind of going from niche to core. And absolutely, and the way if you think of the way medicine is structured today with the specialties, the fact that there's a separate ob gyn, a separate pediatrician, a separate family practitioner, and, you know, the partner in the household is had their own health care provider. So really what you're doing is saying, it's not just about this one experience a pregnancy, it's really about a central time in life around which I think the health of the whole, you know, family and broader than that, and community can really transform if you kind of think about it through that lens. I think that's, that makes so much sense to me. I'd love to hear a little bit about your personal journey, Sonia, you came from Iowa health, also trying to kind of update how we deliver primary care and underserved populations trying to transform healthcare from the ground up. And also in your as your own journey. As a mom, I would love to hear how Maven aligns aligns with both. 

Sonia Millsom  9:20  
 Well, first, you know, my parents are immigrants from India. So you kind of see from a developing country, you know, what, you know, public health looks like very can look very different, right in terms of the infrastructure that supports real outcomes and change. And again, investments in certain places out of college, I joined the Peace Corps and I lived for two and a half years in a rural village in the mountains of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. And the village was, you know, very rural and no running water and you learn a lot about yourself in those scenarios. But my job was to help think about how to impact children and maternal mortality in that village. And so I I saw firsthand how, you know, having a person like myself going to people's homes and helping them understand nutrition and vaccinations and those other components really made a huge difference in outcomes, I was able to assist in about 27 births. And it was an amazing experience. But unfortunately, not all of them survived. And so, you know, when you see that, and you understand the resources that it takes to again, bring up bring a life into this world, and to help sustain it, it was pretty pivotal for me. And then, you know, you asked about my own experience from my own, you know, being mother and my journey, you know, I experienced candidly, you know, multiple miscarriages, we know that one in four pregnancies end in grief, unfortunately, and just had a lack of support from the traditional system. And each of my full term pregnancies, I've got two daughters who are 18 and 16. Now, but you know, they were, they were different. The first one was a breach, and I had to go through thinking about an ecV and ended up with an emergency c section. And my second daughter, you know, was, was was not breached. But you know, the norm was to go for C section. And I advocated really strongly for a VBAC and had that. And so each of those journeys are different, and again, very personalized. And so the combination of that, plus everything that I've done, in my own career, you mentioned IRA, where I had the opportunity to think about innovative primary care value based care models for Medicare beneficiaries, but also working with disease management and second opinion, so kind of pulling all of those experiences in a variety of technology enabled services companies together, and when I got the chance to have the opportunity to join Maven, and say, How can I really make an impact in women and Family Health, that's, you know, where I want it to be. And so I'm so thrilled to be part of this and to really make an impact. You know, when you listen to Maria's story, you know, that's really what inspires me, but it's also about all of the millions of Maria's that are out there that are experiencing them again, this again, their journey in their own way. So excited to be part of it and thinking about how can we can really change the system fundamentally for the long term.

Sponsored Content  12:05  
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Indu Subaiya  12:32  
That's fantastic. I, I know from having gone through just my own experience, having my son 10 years ago, just how transformative it was for me to go through the system and then realize I actually didn't want a traditional birth. And I actually went kind of outside of the traditional path and had kind of a natural birth experience. But it was realizing that you don't have to do you know what what typical medical models prescribe necessarily, and that there, there are ways of kind of start to life, as you say, that are maybe that give you the foundation for for healthier futures, both for the mom and the child. So I think that's really interesting to see how your experiences with your two children, shaped your thoughts. And then of course, you know, your professional journey. I know that one of the issues when we talk about women's health, is these are these gaping disparities in maternal mortality, you know, by race, by socioeconomic status, and more. How I'm currently Mavin is available through your employer. How do we think about expanding this this great access? And how can we kind of call the community to action to to improve those outcomes for all women? everywhere? Yeah, absolutely.

Sonia Millsom  13:56  
So just just one baby step back first to just just to give a little bit of a comprehensive approach as we think about Maven. So we really think about the beginning of the journey all the way from preconception fertility, maternity, from prenatal delivery, to postpartum care, and then all the way through parenting and pediatrics all the way to age 10. And we also, you know, as we talked about those pillars, right, the aspects around care advocacy, the telehealth specialization, and then lastly, that content community. And so having those three pillars that again, surround that fragmentation. When you think about, you know, vulnerable populations, we know that nearly half of the babies take are born in Medicaid. And so and 50% of us counties actually do not have ob gens. And so thinking about the disparities in terms of the access levels, we know that that exists on a racial basis as well. More often than not, you know, black women are subject to discrimination. We know that 22% of them actually report disruption And when they're going to a physician, and we need to systematically address those bias that's in healthcare. And we need to think more comprehensively around the entire system, as I mentioned before, right, investing in that beginning form of life instead of on a very fragmented basis. And I think about that, really around three core components. You know, the first is ultimately trust. You know, again, when you think about trust that trust, what I, what I shared with Maria, you know, the trust that she had, and the providers that she had through Maven is really what made the difference in the outcome, right. So building that trust and thinking about that in a very comprehensive way. Secondly, is really around policies. So currently, the way that Medicaid is structured, you know, there is a huge variation in terms of how we think about the investments across all of the different states. You know, Medicaid only requires coverage for the first 60 days after birth is given, which is completely insufficient. There are so many gaps in that postpartum period that need to be addressed. And we need to think about it on again, a more comprehensive basis. We know that, you know, because of the way that sometimes Medicaid is structured in some of the states, there's no turning between mom and baby. And so it's not comprehensively thought through again, through that first year of life. And we know that people aren't getting postpartum visits, you know, 60% of women skipped their postpartum care during COVID, because it was just too difficult, right in terms of childcare needs, or other needs, in terms of what they had out there working, etc. And so and we also know, there's a huge mental health component around that. So the American rescue plan is, you know, brought some of this to the forefront. But we ultimately, I think, need to think about the third piece, which is reimbursement reform, and thinking about it, again, on a much more comprehensive bases, similar to the models that we've seen in Medicare that really surround from a primary care perspective. But thinking about them all the way through the journey, including not just professional services, but also labor delivery services, and make you and again, all the way through the first year of life to really surround with a variety of resources that support all the social determinants of health, as well as what might be different, again, for everybody's journey, because they're going through it in a very different way, depending on their needs.

Indu Subaiya  17:18  
Thank you so much for that, Sonia. I think that's a really very sort of broad framework and call to action. And I think there really is something for all of us to advocate for in this way of thinking in terms of mavens immediate six 912 month horizon, what's coming up, what are you excited about, specifically? And yeah, any interesting collaborations or partnerships and ecosystems? Yeah, great question.

Sonia Millsom  17:46  
One of the things about Maven is that we continue to innovate. And we think about that, you know, as I mentioned earlier, you know, that comprehensive journey all the way through parenting and pediatrics, we had actually done an acquisition last year with through bright power parenting, which allowed us to go and extend up to age 10, we continue to look and evaluate for those opportunities for the future. So where is it that we can go deeper, we're thinking about how do we create that connectivity on a local basis, as well as for providers thinking about things like remote patient monitoring, and again, the ability to do things on a very convenient basis, right, not requiring people to just come into the office in order to get care, but thinking about what can be delivered at home or in community in order to evolve and really think more comprehensively around value based care models. And I think we are also definitely on that path for Medicaid and thinking about how is it that we can again, support the most vulnerable populations and it made it and you know, our resources that are available, you know, on a from employers, but all through through health plans shouldn't be just insurance only kind of access, it should be, you know, something that everybody has access to as we think about these new models of care. And our ability, again, to think about that on a very local level. And supporting those most vulnerable populations is the way that we are thinking about our future so that everybody someday could have access to Maven and models like it so that we make a real difference again, at that very critical point of the beginning of life.

Sponsored Content  19:12  
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Indu Subaiya  19:39  
That's really exciting. And just want to thank you so much for chatting with us today. I feel as if the convergence that you're describing around how Maven is structured and its vision is really so timely for the way where we are as an industry, and so much as in place to really enable these new types of care. paddles and our focus on health equity and engaging everybody in these better industry toward better outcomes. I think it's just you guys are perfectly positioned. And always so thank you so much, Sonia, and all the best for you guys as you move forward.

Sonia Millsom  20:16  
Yeah, well, thank you again for having us. We're so excited to be working to make a real difference that we get on our mission, but also just really impact care. It's ultimately why we're all here and you know, showing up to have those Maven moments every day. So thanks for taking the time and sharing story.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai