Smartphone App Allows Women to Make Any Place a Health Clinic

Pharmacy Times, June 2015 Women's Health, Volume 81, Issue 6

A new app called Maven allows women to access a health care professional on their smartphone.

A new app called Maven allows women to access a health care professional on their smartphone. On its website, Maven markets itself as a service “designed to make health care easy for all women” and a means to connect with “a range of health professionals who understand your symptoms and know how best to treat them.” It is the first telemedicine platform developed specifically for use by women.

First, the user is prompted to enter her information about the kind of care she is seeking—either for herself or for a child. Based on that information, the app recommends nearby providers, and then users are asked to select a time for a video appointment. After the video appointment, which can take 18 minutes to an hour, the user can choose to follow up in the form of postappointment notes or by booking a second appointment.

The types of health professionals in Maven’s network include nurse practitioners, obstetricians/gynecologists, nutritionists, and lactation consultants. Patients can either seek advice without giving their name or choose to be seen as themselves. In the latter scenario, the provider can access all of a patient’s health records and, if the patient resides in one of the 5 states that allow it, write a prescription. The price of the service varies by the type of provider; a video session with a nurse practitioner can cost as little as $18.

The main focus of the platform concerns health topics for women of childbearing age, including pediatric care. Maven CEO Kate Ryder told TechCrunch, “We found a particularly strong need around prenatal and postpartum care, as well as childcare or pulling long hours at the office.” This demand is likely linked to the fact that, according to data collected by the National Partnership for Women & Families, women make roughly 80% of the health care decisions for their families. These decisions include scheduling doctor’s appointments and ensuring that everyone in the household is receiving the care they need. This responsibility, coupled with the other responsibilities women have, which often includes holding a full-time job, could be extremely time-consuming and create a burden.

Another element of Maven’s ethos is to provide women easy access to a health care professional to discuss issues that may be timesensitive. With respect to postpartum care in particular, Rebecca Callahan, a nurse practitioner with Maven, said during an interview with Tech Republic, “There are some really serious issues that can go on in between the time [the patient] gives birth and when she goes to her provider for the 6-week checkup. We want to fill in the gaps for women when they’re not seeing a regular provider for their care.” This could include medical advice related to the baby or managing postpartum depression if it arises.

In addition, telemedicine presents an opportunity for women to receive health care quickly to resolve a relatively minor issue without having to wait weeks for an appointment or seek treatment at an emergency care facility. Callahan says that a classic-use case is when a patient gets a urinary tract infection over a weekend and wants to avoid visiting an urgent care center. Callahan said “there are so many issues that are small, and you can quickly solve them by talking to a professional.”