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Landmark Research From Maven Clinic Finds Virtual Doula Care Improves Birth Experiences and Reduces C-sections at Rates Comparable to In-Person Doula Support

Peer-reviewed research published in "Obstetrics and Gynecology" marks the first-ever study of the impact of virtual doulas on maternal health outcomes

Findings from research on 9,000 Maven members underscore the power of digital health in increasing access to care and health equity in birth outcomes

NEW YORK, Dec. 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Maven Clinic, the world's largest virtual clinic for women and families, today published a first-of-its-kind peer-reviewed study in Obstetrics and Gynecology examining the impact of virtual doula care on birth experiences and outcomes. The research, drawing on data from nearly 9,000 Maven members, found that virtual doula care improves birth experiences and reduces the odds of C-section at rates comparable to in-person doula care, with the greatest impact seen among Black members. The findings demonstrate how digital health platforms can play a critical role in increasing access to quality care, ultimately promoting equitable maternal health outcomes and driving down healthcare costs.

Despite research showing that doulas can improve maternal health outcomes and reduce disparities in care, only 6% of births in the United States are supported by a doula. Doulas can play an important role in a pregnancy care team, providing continuous support, education and advocacy before birth, during labor and throughout the postpartum period. Significant barriers to accessing doula care persist, and far too often care is unavailable or unaffordable for the communities that could benefit from it most. Amidst a worsening maternal health crisis, employers and health plans are investing in maternal health solutions that include doula support to improve outcomes and reduce costs, including those associated with procedures like C-sections, one of the top healthcare expenses for employers.

Maven's research is the first-ever study tracking the impact of virtual doulas on birth outcomes. Drawing on data from nearly 9,000 Maven members, the findings include:

  • Odds of C-section decrease with 2+ doula appointments: Attending two or more doula appointments reduced the odds of C-section by nearly 20%, and for members who have had a prior C-section, the odds were reduced by more than 60%.
  • Reduced odds of C-section especially pronounced for Black members: Among Black members, attending two or more virtual doula appointments was associated with a nearly 60% decreased odds of C-section. Across all racial and ethnic identities, meeting with a doula at least twice was associated with reduced odds of C-section.
  • Virtual doula support is associated with improved birth experiences: Meeting with a Maven doula increases a person's likelihood of reporting a better birth experience, with members indicating they felt they had support in deciding a delivery preference, learning medically accurate information, and managing their mental health.

Research findings, specifically among members with a previous history of a c-section and Black members, are comparable to the range of estimates found in extant literature examining in-person doula use and its association with c-sections.

"At every point in our nine year history, the Maven care model has included doulas. We have long heard from our members just how crucial they are in increasing a family's comfort and confidence during and after pregnancy," said Kate Ryder, Founder and CEO of Maven Clinic. "These findings reaffirm what we've also seen in our data: that virtual doulas have a critical role to play in driving better maternal health outcomes."

"This is an extraordinary scientific result. The evidence on the benefits of doulas has been clear for decades but the challenge has always been that communities who need them most are seldom able to access them," said Dr. Neel Shah, Chief Medical Officer of Maven Clinic. "It is encouraging that virtual access to doulas can have such a profound impact on birth experiences and outcomes, particularly among Black mothers who are made most vulnerable by inequities in our system."

"This work demonstrates an intentional use of digital technology to enable racial equity in maternal health and is a substantial scientific contribution," said Dr. Rachel Hardeman, Blue Cross Endowed Professor of Health and Racial Equity at the University of Minnesota and member of Maven's Scientific Advisory Board.

Doulas are among the 30+ specialists that Maven members have unlimited access to as part of Maven's Maternity & Newborn care program. Nearly two-thirds of Maven members who met with a doula also met with one or more providers on the platform, with the top three most utilized providers being OB/GYNs, lactation consultants, and mental health providers. Members seeking in-person support throughout labor and postpartum can also access Maven referrals to doulas in their community, and they can be reimbursed as an employee benefit through Maven Wallet, Maven's proprietary reimbursement platform.

Maven's Maternity & Newborn care program reduces costs for employers and health plans while improving health outcomes for members by bringing together clinical, emotional and financial support all under one platform. The company's care model has demonstrated that it has lowered C-section rates by up to 20% and reduced NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) admissions by up to 28%. Over 90% of Maven maternity members return to work after leave, compared to the national average of 57%, and 70% of members report being more productive at work.

About Maven Clinic

Maven is the world's largest virtual clinic for women and families on a mission to make healthcare work for all of us. Maven's award-winning digital programs provide clinical, emotional, and financial support all in one platform, spanning fertility & family building, maternity & newborn care, parenting & pediatrics, and menopause. Employers and health plans trust Maven's end-to-end platform to improve clinical outcomes, reduce healthcare costs, and provide equity in benefits programs. Recognized for innovation and industry leadership, Maven has been named to the Time 100 Most Influential Companies, CNBC Disruptor 50, Fast Company Most Innovative Companies, and FORTUNE Best Places to Work. Founded in 2014 by CEO Kate Ryder, Maven has raised $300 million in funding from top healthcare and technology investors including General Catalyst, Oak HC/FT, Sequoia, Dragoneer Investment Group, and Lux Capital. To learn more about Maven, visit us at mavenclinic.com.

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SOURCE Maven Clinic

By: PR Newswire Association LLC. - 06 Dec 2023
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