Is going to the doctor ever convenient? For most of us, it means (a) getting up extra early to squeeze in an appointment before work, (b) missing at least an hour at the office (which means an extra-long work day to make up for it), or (c) making a trip to the doc on the weekend...when all you want to be doing is enjoying your day off.
To top it off, unless your doctor is some kind of magician, they’re probably always running behind schedule...which means even though they tell you to show up 15 minutes early, you’re stuck in the waiting room for a good 20-45 minutes before getting the show on the road.
The good news is there’s now a digital clinic called Maven that improves much more than just the scheduling aspects of your visits to the doctor. (The bad news: if you have a phobia of going to the doctor, inconvenience is no longer an excuse). Maven is improving access to quality health care to women in particular, providing a network of the best women’s and family health care providers who are available via video or text.
Whether you’re a working mom (or soon-to-be-mom) who’s navigating pregnancy, maternity leave, or the transition back to work -- or whether you need an affordable therapist or nutritionist -- Maven’s network of doctors is comprehensive (and serves women in all 50 states!).
We checked in with Katherine Ryder, Maven’s CEO and Founder, to get a better sense of how Maven is revolutionizing healthcare in the U.S. She filled us in on how exactly Maven works (including the Maven Maternity program, which companies can use to help their pregnant employees and new parents) and how she’s working toward bringing women’s health out of the shadows.
Fairygodboss: When and why was Maven founded?
Katherine Ryder: I got the idea for Maven around the time that I turned 30 when a lot of my friends started having kids, and their healthcare needs weren’t being met in very basic areas. Our current healthcare system is incredibly inconvenient, and there are serious gaps in women’s care in particular. I realized that there was a real need to improve access to quality care--especially for women who are pregnant or newly postpartum.
In 2014, I founded Maven, a network of the best women’s and family health providers, available on-demand via video or text, whenever and wherever you need them. Since launching in mid-2015, we've gone national, serving women in all 50 states – and from that we built and launched Maven Maternity, a 15-month program for employers to deliver to their pregnant employees and new parents. We cover everything from helping women transition back to work in a healthy and productive way (to help drive retention) to helping employers reduce maternity-related costs, which are often the #1 or #2 healthcare cost for companies. To date, oddly, there has not been innovation in this area.
FGB: Can you tell us more about Maven’s mission?
KR: I believe that better care for women is a social imperative. Absurdly, issues affecting all women – menstruation, contraception, fertility – remain taboo. Creating a more equal system means bringing women’s health out of the shadows.
Further, most people don’t know this, but women in America make 80% of all health decisions for themselves and their families. This fact is all too obvious for any mother who has ever had to miss work to get care for her child or any woman who has worried all night because she can’t get a simple answer from her doctor.
This means that the burden of the U.S. healthcare system falls disproportionately on a female’s shoulders. We started Maven to address these needs and make it easier for women to get immediate professional care from someone they trust.
FGB: Why should women know about your company?
KR: Maven is the first, and the only, digital clinic for women. We offer a wide range of practitioners to meet all of a woman's healthcare needs—from OB/GYNs and therapists to nutritionists and even physical therapists. Because improving access and affordability to great care for women requires using all providers to their fullest capacity—not just doctors. Appointments on Maven start at just $18, so less than the cost of a co-pay.
For working women, our Maven Maternity program helps expecting and new moms navigate pregnancy, maternity leave, and the transition back to work with concierge-like care coordination as well as unlimited access to our provider network. It’s an exciting time in that many companies are expanding maternity and paternity benefits, but there is still a gap in making sure a woman gets the best care and returns to work, ready to go.
We treat everything from infant sleep issues to postpartum depression to pelvic floor rehabilitation to the separation anxiety that many working moms get when they return to work. (If you'd like to recommend Maven Maternity to your HR team, email [email protected]).
FGB: What's one of the biggest challenges Maven has faced in achieving its mission?
KR: We’re in an exciting moment where the future of healthcare is here (think: virtual doctor visits! digital maternal health programs!), but there is still a lot of women who have never chatted to a provider over video. Some Americans still think that medical appointments need to happen in an offline setting, but the majority of the time, the exact opposite is true. According to the American Telemedicine Association, 70% of what can be conducted in an office can be accomplished over a video appointment--at a fraction of the cost and far more conveniently.
FGB: How have you gone about overcoming this obstacle?
KR: We’ve been able to overcome these behavior change hurdles by providing comprehensive profiles of our Maven Practitioner community and video biographies – so you don’t feel like you’re talking to a random doctor, but rather a friendly OB/GYN who grew up in Pittsburg, attended medical school at the University of Georgia, has practiced for 16 years, and has two kids of her own.
FGB: How has the company grown and developed?
KR: We started as most companies start: a few people in a windowless office, sketching on a whiteboard, talking about revolutionizing women’s health. We first launched our telemedicine marketplace in 2015 so we could become experts in how to deliver excellent digital care, and it’s humbling to get so many notes from our users about how they’ve never felt better supported.
And through all those learnings, we were able to develop our flagship product, Maven Maternity, to better support new moms in the workplace and drive outcomes for employers and ultimately, the female patient.
FGB: What’s the culture like within your walls?
KR: [All Maven employees] get a subscription to Maven Maternity (as well as 12 week of paid leave)! We’re a scrappy start-up so we are a work hard, play hard culture. We have lunch together on Tuesdays, bagels on Fridays, and every quarter we do a friends & family drinks where we invite our friends and stay out late.
FGB: What other companies that support women do you admire?
KR: To date, most key stakeholders at the helm of insurance companies, hospitals, government – even digital health companies – have been men. The irony is that healthcare is the largest industry in the United States, and women are the key decisions makers (they are often the Chief Medical Offers of their own families) yet only 4% of healthcare CEOs are women.
Slowly but surely, this is beginning to change, and there are a slew of companies “by women, for women” in the healthcare space that I admire that are having an impact. A few examples: Naya Health (redesigned a more modern breast pump), THINX (period- and pee-proof underwear), Clue (period tracker for women), LOLA (organic tampons, pads, and other feminine care products), Ritual (vitamins for women), Bellabeat (bio- tracker for steps, sleep and, yes, women’s periods), Elvie (pelvic floor tracker), Dot Laboratories (women’s health lab that tests female sex hormone levels) and Celmatix (leveraging big data and genomics for fertility).
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