This morning, maternal health focused femtech company Advantia Health announced that it has acquired Pacify, a live video chat platform for new and soon-to-be moms.
As part of the deal Advantia Health, which provides in-person care with a companion care coordination platform, will now be able to offer its members video chats. Advantia Health estimates that the services will be available to members by the end of the calendar year. The platform employs the services of physician extenders including lactation consultants and registered nurses.
“When it’s 2 a.m., you’re a new mom and your baby has a fever or you aren’t sure if she’s getting enough to eat, you want instantaneous access to quality care. Pacify provides that,” Dr. Lisa Shah, Advantia’s chief medical officer, said in a statement. “And health plans know that those moments present a real opportunity to improve outcomes and reduce costs.”
Pacify has been in the digital space for some time. Last year it partnered with Medela, which makes breast feeding support projects, to offer members video connections to lactation consultants.
In the past Pacify has teamed up with Care1st Health Plan Arizona on a pilot offering the former’s live video chat app to expecting moms and new mothers enrolled in the state’s Medicaid program.
WHY IT MATTERS
Infant and maternal health has been a concern for American providers in recent years, as mortality rates for both continue to be higher compared to other affluent countries.
Clinicians and technologist have increasingly been implementing digital tools to tackle this public health issue. For example, in April of 2018 American Well and Royal Philips announced a new partnership that helped build a new telemedicine feature into the Philips Avent uGrow app for parents of young children.
Pacify has been working in this area since 2014 and claims that its perinatal support services decreased ER visits by 26 percent and contributed to a 10 percent increase in reported rates of exclusive breastfeed among women in a statewide WIC program.
WHAT'S THE TREND
The femtech world continues to boom, and this week alone saw millions of dollars pouring into the space. On Monday NextGen Jane, a company that uses tampons to tell women about their reproductive health, raised $9 million in new funding. The next morning London-based femtech company Elvie, which makes a smart breast pump and pelvic floor trainer, announced a $42 million Series B funding raise.
The space has also seen its fair share of M&As. For example, in October Prima-Temp, a company looking to leverage machine learning in women’s cyclical health, announced that it acquired Kindara, maker of a fertility tracking app and connected fertility monitor.
However, there has been criticism about femtech’s focus on fertility and pregnancy.
“We’ve basically expanded surveillance of women. We have introduced new privacy questions as they have tracked their periods, and as we introduce new fertility questions earlier,” Vanessa Mason, director of the Institute for the Future, said at Mad*Pow's HXD 2019 conference in Boston earlier this week. “In a certain sense we are profiting off a lot of anxiety and fear around trying to get pregnant or trying not to get pregnant.”
ON THE RECORD
“Pacify supports a large number of families through public programs like Medicaid and WIC, so it was important to us that Advantia share our commitment to delivering care to the underserved,” George Brandes, cofounder and COO of Pacify, said in a statement. “Joining Advantia will enable us to grow our work supporting families that wouldn’t otherwise have access to these services.”