Our “Innovators Worth Watching” series spotlights interesting and potentially disruptive players across a spectrum of industries.
Childbirth is the most common reason for admission to the hospital. And there were 3,613,647 births in the United States in 2020. But what happens to the mothers and children after childbirth?
The average American mother does not receive sufficient postpartum care. Less than half of new moms believe they are provided with enough information to remain healthy after giving birth. And with a lack of medical professionals focusing on postpartum care, new mothers must choose from one of two options: bringing their questions to doctors who are not experts in postpartum care—such as their child’s pediatrician, or handling their health concerns on their own.
Inspired by her personal postpartum experience, CEO and founder Mandy Major created Major Care to help families navigate life after childbirth and address the lack of postpartum care and resources. Through Major Care’s free MyFourth App, users receive access to guides and toolkits to help improve postpartum health and knowledge. Major Care also offers two monthly subscription options for on-demand communication with professionally-trained postpartum doulas who offer counseling on a wide range of concerns, including:
- Bottle feeding,
- Postpartum body care and healing, and
- Emotional ups and downs.
Major Care provides clarity and knowledge in a time period mostly overlooked by traditional health care offerings. But is their model disruptive? To find out, we put its model to our test.
1. Does it target people whose only alternative is to buy nothing at all (nonconsumers) or who are overserved by existing offerings in the market?
Yes. As previously mentioned, the US health care system lacks a focus on postpartum care. While other countries dedicate time and resources to both newborns and their mothers after birth, the US only focuses on the former. In fact, unlike many other significant medical procedures, there is no standard guideline for recovery after childbirth.
Given the lack of offerings available to postpartum moms, Major Care addresses nonconsumption by providing a one-stop shop for postpartum information and guidance. It provides support and knowledge where little currently exists.
2. Is the offering not as good as existing offerings as judged by historical measures of performance?
Yes. Doulas are not medical providers. As such, they cannot provide the same level of medical care as a doctor, nurse, or midwife. However, doulas are professional health coaches specifically trained for maternal health needs. While their offerings are not clinical in nature, doulas can play a significant role in improving a new mom’s physical and mental health.
Major Care uses texts and video to connect users to doulas. Virtual care is typically considered “not as good” as an in-person alternative because it prohibits more comprehensive evaluations of physical health concerns. Major Care’s doula program is also not guaranteed to connect users to the same doula each time, reducing the ability for users to forge long-term connections. And while their resource library’s content is vetted by maternal health experts, it may seem “not as good” when compared to speaking directly to a doctor who can personalize responses for an individual’s specific situation.
3. Is the innovation simpler to use, more convenient, or more affordable than existing offerings?
Yes, somewhat. It is more convenient and simpler to use, though it is only more affordable in some cases. Users can access the MyFourth resource library, and connect with postpartum doulas, whenever (and wherever) they need. This means women do not need to wait weeks to see a doctor about their concerns. They can address concerns as they arise and can reference a reliable source for postpartum care advice rather than having to navigate the field on their own.
While the MyFourth app’s resource library is free to use, the monthly subscription services are currently $29 (for text only) or $199 (for both text and video chat). The need to pay out-of-pocket, plus the higher cost of the video chat service, may make these services unattainable for many.
4. Does the offering have a technology that enables it to improve and capture a larger market over time?
Yes. A mobile app-based resource guide can help families self-manage and improve their health. In the near-term, Major Care could expand its resource library to cover a broader range of maternal health information, such as pregnancy and childbirth resources. This would allow Major Care to capture its current target market over a longer portion of the pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum journey. To expand its market, it could enhance its library to include other women’s health concerns such as post-menopausal care.
Major Care’s text and video platform brings women’s health care to a broader audience, and allows it to expand into a greater number of geographies where there is limited or no access to women’s health care.
5. Is the technology paired with an innovative business model that allows it to be sustainable?
Maybe. Major Care views themselves as a companion to doula work, rather than as a replacement for current doula efforts. Therefore, they work alongside community doulas in order to expand their reach.
Major Care does not exclusively operate through an out-of-pocket subscription service. It also partners with employers who want to offer postpartum care as an additional health benefit. However, Major Care is a newer company and needs time to prove its sustainability in the long-term.
6. Are existing providers motivated to ignore the new innovation and not feel threatened by it at the outset?
Yes. Existing providers will not feel threatened by Major Care, as Major Care is not replacing medical care. Additionally, if medical complications arise postpartum, doulas cannot provide that level of care and existing providers will still need to be called.
As it stands, postpartum care in the US does not adequately serve mothers’ and families’ needs and demands. Major Care is potentially disrupting the space by using telehealth to provide women with access to postpartum doula care and a mobile app to supply families with postpartum health resources. While time will determine whether Major Care’s business model is sustainable, its approach to addressing the nonconsumption present in postpartum care makes Major Care an innovator to watch.