Meghan Doyle, co-founder and CEO of Partum Health, was working at a consulting firm in the healthcare sector when she first became a mom. It was during this time that she realized how confusing maternal healthcare really is.
“I think a lot of the things I was talking to my clients about — like the digital front door and how we build around patient-centered outcomes and multidisciplinary care models — were really absent when it came to my maternal care journey,” Doyle said in an interview. “That made a big impression on me.”
What was absent was care for needs other than actual pregnancy care, like mental health and physical therapy. Postpartum care was also seriously lacking. Drawing from her experience, Doyle went on to create Chicago-based Partum Health in 2020. Judges crowned Partum Health the winner of the consumer/employer track of the MedCity News INVEST Pitch Perfect contest on May 24, preferring it over four other companies.
Partum Health, a direct-to-consumer company, supports families during fertility, pregnancy and postpartum. It currently only serves patients in Illinois, but is looking to expand nationally. It offers doula care (during birth and postpartum), lactation consultants, physical therapy, nutrition support, mental health services and acupuncture. Patients can meet with the care team in the provider’s office, the patient’s home or via telehealth. They can also chat with the care team through Partum’s app.
“I think the reality is, if you want to have a great postpartum experience, you actually have to start planning and doing preventative care during your pregnancy,” Doyle said. “Then we also know that, for example, when people are in the midst of fertility treatments, there’s a really high incidence of mental health challenges, and also nothing really built into that care delivery to bring mental health side-by-side with your fertility journey. There may also be instances where people need support with the physical side from [physical therapy], things like nutrition, that can really aid in supporting optimal fertility, pregnancy and postpartum.”
Partum Health was chosen as the winner of the Pitch Perfect contest because it is filling an “unmet market need,” said Shawn Ellis, managing partner of Distributed Ventures and a judge for the contest.
“There was a consensus that Partum is coordination of different specialist care that’s really, really needed during pregnancy and post pregnancy,” Ellis said. “[I] loved the coordination of care, loved the very consumer-centric approach, patient-centric approach.”
While Partum is a direct-to-consumer company, it is in-network with Blue Cross Blue Shield, Aetna, UnitedHealthcare and Cigna for its clinical services. It functions in a fee-for-service model, in which clinical care is usually reimbursed through insurance and non-clinical services like doula care is paid out of pocket or through a health savings account or flexible spending account. Down the line, the company aims to engage in more payer relationships (including Medicaid), as well as work with employers.
Partum has received interest from investors as well, raising a little over $1 million in a pre-seed round from angel investors. The startup is currently raising its seed round.
Other maternal health companies are gaining funding as well. Maven Clinic raised $90 million in Series E funding in November. The company offers care including fertility, maternity and pediatric support. Oula — which provides midwifery, obstetrics and pregnancy education — raised more than $19 million in January.
Partum Health’s ultimate goal is to expand the scope of what’s considered needed in pregnancy care, Doyle said.
“Our aim is that every family — just like you see an obstetrician or you see a reproductive endocrinologist if you’re going through fertility — they also have access to mental health and physical therapy and doula care,” Doyle said. “That’s really the shift that we’re trying to create. The default model really needs to be expanded to include these specialists because that’s what the families are looking for. And that’s what’s going to move the needle on the health complications and issues that people are experiencing today.”
Photo: MedCity News