By Nicole Goodkind, CNN Business
The United States is going through a maternal health crisis.
Maternal mortality and morbidity rates across the country have steadily increased over the past 20 years, even as rates in all other developed countries have declined significantly.
New government data shows maternal deaths in the United States jumped 14% in the early years of the pandemicvs, to 861 in 2020 compared to 754 in 2019. The maternal death rate for black women in the United States was nearly three times higher than for white women during this period.
Goldman Sachs wants to change that. Mahmee, a six-year-old maternal healthcare startup, announced the closing of a $9.2 million Series A funding round led by Goldman’s Growth Equity Business.
High rates of maternal mortality in the United States, especially among minority groups, have “become a systemic issue and something that we don’t pay attention to,” said Mahmee founder and CEO Melissa Hanna. “But we can also turn the tide.”
The investment is part of Goldman Sachs’ One Million Black Women initiative, a $10 billion commitment to close the opportunity gap for black women over the next decade.
Mahmee, who has also received funding from Serena Williams and Mark Cuban, hopes to build the digital infrastructure needed to bring patients and providers closer together and make health data widely available in an industry where it is often siled.
“The reality is that most of the record systems we use to track health information for mothers and babies don’t talk to each other,” Hanna said.
Mahmee creates a unified record for each patient that displays all of a mother’s health data in one place. The service also offers access to a nationwide network of community health care providers, including in-house nurses and care coordinators who provide live support seven days a week. Coordinators monitor health needs, provide referrals to healthcare professionals and answer questions and concerns of pregnant women.
The company also works directly with institutions by selling their nurse-led coordination programs to a number of health services, medical groups and insurance companies. Mahmee currently has over 750 vendors and organizations in its network in 44 states.
Well-coordinated care has been proven to lead to better health outcomes and fewer hospitalizations, according to research published in the Annals of Family Medicine, but American patients are more likely to experience gaps in these services than patients who live in other high-income countries. , the study found.
“We were able to create life-saving interventions and point out things that other people may have overlooked by accident or lack of experience,” Hanna said.
Since its launch in 2016, Mahmee has served more than 15,000 women, Hanna said, and those patients are 10% less likely to have a C-section and 50% less likely to give birth prematurely.
“Disparities in access to high-quality maternal and perinatal care contribute to poor health outcomes in underserved communities and substantial costs to the broader health system,” said Suzanne Gauron, Global Head of Launch With GS, a Goldman Sachs program that aims to increase access to capital for underrepresented entrepreneurs and investors. “We believe Mahmee is well positioned to improve the lives of mothers and babies by closing critical opportunity gaps in care and outcomes.”
“The United States has a relative shortage of maternity care providers, especially midwives, and lacks comprehensive postpartum support,” wrote doctoral student Roosa Tikkanen in a report for the Commonwealth Fund examining the disparities.
America, meanwhile, is in some ways the most expensive country in which to give birth and the only developed country without mandatory paid parental leave.
But it’s not purely philanthropic work, Hanna said. Maternal and child health care is a $160 billion industry in the United States. Failures in care coordination account for between $27.2 billion and $78.2 billion in unnecessary medical costs and waste per year, according to a 2019 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association.
“If we even scratch the surface of solving this problem for mothers and babies in this country,” Hanna said, “we’ve unlocked billions of dollars of potential here.”
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